Essays on Football in the North-East of England 1880-1930
Chapter 6 Conclusions: Football as a Commodity
In the introduction to this book I said that my interest in my research project ‘waned markedly once the North-East became recognisably the football region in which I had grown up’ and that the main reason for that was ‘my distinctly ambiguous attitude to the commodification of football’. It is now time for me to say what I meant by that, and doing so will require me to centralise my identity as a social theorist and philosopher rather than as a football fan (which I still am, despite everything) or as an amateur historian of the game (which is all I consider myself to be.) So this chapter will make use of ideas which are rarely explicitly encountered in the historical or contemporary literature on football. Nonetheless I will make continual reference to the earlier chapters of this book and to football history generally, as I develop them.
In a capitalist economy nearly all material goods – cars, buses, screws, paint, steel, textiles, butter, pork, refrigerators, computers, sound systems, jewellery and a million other things – are commodities. That is to say, they are all sold for money (which is all that one means by calling anything a commodity). But commodities are not only sold for money, the vast majority are produced by means of money. In conventional economic terms the ‘inputs’ to such production (raw materials or components and production machinery in the case of physical commodities, the physical infrastructure used – buildings, equipment, etc. – in the case of services)...
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