The Person in the Market: Threats and Possibilities

Author: Willard Enrique R. Macaraan, De La Salle University, Philippines
Published: October 2013

Citation: Macaraan, W. E. R. (2013). The Person in the Market: Threats and Possibilities. IAFOR Journal of Ethics, Religion & Philosophy, 1(1).


The market, after a long yet undisturbed evolution, has finally become an imposing superstructure that does not simply connote a place of production, exchange and purchase but has transcended the non-economic spheres of human life, even its moral-cultural order. At the core of this evolution is the human person, no more an agent but more like its slave. Everything has become commodified – literally. From goods produced by human labor and ingenuity to selling even the body of the producer him/herself. Worse, the human person in all its integrity and wholeness can now be purchased, bargained and exchanged. Even the sphere of interpersonal relations was limited by the increase of formal and impersonal interactions. The trends of social networking, online selling and marketing, text messaging among others have now become the system of relations, however provisional and short-term. What then is the value of a human life? The reduction of human beings by market capitalism to units of productive power demands therefore a greater need to develop a philosophical position that can challenge all of these dehumanizing elements and structures. Citing Talcott Parsons’ “Social Structure and Personality” espousing the interplay between Sigmund Freud’s theory of internalizing individual and Emile Durkheim’s theory of constraining society, the individual will develop discourse and behavior consistent with the conditions set forth by the social structures. The interaction is not simply a case of society imposing its dominance to the individuals but rather a case of tolerant "subjects" validating its system. This framework, from which the paper is based, believes that the very manner of market oppression can be the same manner towards possibility of liberation – a moral-cultural order.


market, commodification, moral-cultural order, Durkheim, Parsons, Freud, reification