Publication Details

Maddison, B. G. 2003, 'The corrosive acid of commercialism has bitten into our life': commodification and the rise of popular political economy in Australia 1900-25', in B. Bowden & J. Kellett (eds), Transforming Labour: Work, Workers, Struggle and Change: Proceedings of the Eighth National Labour History Conference held at the College of Art, Griffith University, Southbank, Brisbane, Brisbane Labour History Association, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 201-208.


The term 'commercialism' started to appear in Australian popular and political discourse in the decades that spanned 1900. On one hand, its appearance reflected the qualitative change in commodity relations in Australia in that period. On the other, the use of the term was also part of the reconstucted conceptual apparatus through which working class and popular anti-capitalist stances were articulated. This popular political economy was a vernacular expression of social knowledge about the dehumanising effects of the commodification process. It also expressed popular resistance to bourgeois attempts to represent capitalist institutions such as the market as natural and inevitable.