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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Considering Commodification

About a year ago I worked on a research project for my qualitative research methods class where I spent time with members of the electro dance music scene. When I started the project I had no idea what it meant and what it still means to be a raver or even what a 'real rave' was. After about a month of spending time in the scene I started to believe that the venue, people, and scene I was studying were not the things I thought they were. I entered the project with the understanding that I was studying ravers; it wasn't until I spent some time studying and observing the subjects did I realize that I was studying the product of a commodified subculture. The venue wasn't an authentic venue for 'real raves,' instead of a warehouse the events I attended were hosted in clubs. Instead of cultural beliefs like PLUR (peace, love, unity, and respect) constituting the collective conscious, drugs, sexual activity, etc. were. And instead of collective self-organization playing a role in the events, business owners were planning and throwing the events. Despite the fact that raves lost many of their core qualities, electro music was never able to be kicked out of the culture.

This is the role of commodification; to turn something, a service or item, into something that can be sold -- but more importantly, sold to the masses. Throughout history we have seen the commodification of products, services, and subcultures (punk culture), destroy the things we loved and needed. This was my reaction when I realized the rave scene had been commodified, packaged, and sold to the masses. But what I have recently realized is that by commodifying raves, electronic music -- one of the pillars of the rave scene, electronic music was able to enter the mainstream -- something that I assume the first DJs thought never could happen. Even though raves have been commodified for the masses, 'real raves' still exist and are being sought out by individuals who were reeled in by commodified raves.

Drawing from this example and the idea that commodification is the act of turning a product or service into something that can be sold to the masses, I feel that political subcultures can gain political power by commodifying their ideas for the masses.



  1. This is a message from Void Network / Athens section: Rave On! Destroy Commodity! Zero Economics! No Debt - No Profit! Erase Money! Add your own Noise! Goin' Underground! Rave On!

  2. also, as about the rave business and the assimilation of ALL Art Forms from Capital and the existing Economy: our answer is #FREE FESTIVAL culture (as more free people gathered as many free things happened) and non-employment relations on production (as long as the people that participate at the creation of it DON'T WORK FOR IT(!)... all work done is perfect

  3. p.s.

    a note as about the writer of the article
    and all possible "freak out brothers and sisters" :

    Try to go at a "real FREE rave party"... You even admit it that you didn't found them... For the best possible understanding of rave culture try to go to some "rave parties" in the jungle or nearby the ocean... Travel alone more than 9.000 miles to any possible direction from your stand-point for a FREE rave in the jungle or nearby the ocean...Then come back to Babylon and finish your project about "raves", "commodities", "political ideas" and Anarchy