Abstract: Despite prolonged resistance campaigns against what are regarded as unethical production practices of companies such as Nike, people around the world still seem to be happy to spend a lot of money buying expensive consumer products. Why is this so? In this article we discuss this question through the lens of the concept of fetishism. By discussing texts by Freud and Marx, amongst others, we first explore the genealogy of the concept of fetishism. We then develop a Lacanian reading to understand how processes of fetishization dominate today’s capitalist society, producing a modern subject that constantly desires to consume more in order to constitute itself. We argue—with Lacan—that at the heart of this process of the constitution of the subject through consumption is enjoyment or, what Lacan calls, jouissance. Capitalism—as any other socio-economic regime—can thus be understood as a system of enjoyment.
Categories: Journal Papers