Putting the finishing touches on the very final draft of my thesis. I’ll post it when I’m in done. In the meantime, the copy-editor was sharp enough to recommend re-writing my summary. Here it is:
This thesis presents a comparative account of the theory of fetishism and its role in the social constitution and constituent properties of Marx, Lukács, Adorno and Lefebvre’s supra-individual theories of social domination. It aims to bring this unduly neglected aspect of fetishism to the fore and to stress its relevance for contemporary critical theory.
The thesis begins with an introductory chapter that highlights the lack of a satisfactory theory of fetishism and social domination in contemporary critical theory. It also demonstrates how this notion of fetishism has been neglected in contemporary critical theory and in studies of Marxian theory.
This frames the ensuing comparative, historical and theoretical study in the substantive chapters of my thesis, which differentiates, reconstructs and critically evaluates how Marx, Lukács, Adorno and Lefebvre utilize the theory of fetishism to articulate their theories of the composition and characteristics of social domination. Chapter 1 examines Marx’s theory of fetish-characteristic forms of value as a theory of social domination embedded in the Trinity Formula. It also examines the theoretical and sociological shortcomings of Capital. Chapter 2 focuses on how Lukács’s double-faceted account of fetishism as reification articulates his Hegelian, Marxian, Simmelian and Weberian account of dominating social mystification. Chapter 3 turns to Adorno’s theory of the fetish form of the exchange abstraction and unpacks how it serves as a basis for his dialectical social theory of domination. Chapter 4 provides an account of how Lefebvre’s theory of fetishism as concrete abstraction is the basis of a number of theories that attempt to socially embody an account of domination that is not overly deterministic. My critical evaluations in chapters 2-4 interrogate each thinker’s conception of fetishism and its role in their accounts of the genesis and pervasiveness of social domination.
The conclusion of the thesis consists of three parts. In the first part, I bring together and compare my analysis of Marx, Lukács, Adorno and Lefebvre. In part two, I consider whether their respective theories provide a coherent and cohesive critical social theory of fetishism and of the mode of constitution and the constituents of social domination. In part three, I move toward a contemporary variant of a critical theory of fetishism and social domination by synthesisizng elements of Lukács, Adorno and Lefebvre’ theories with a model of social constitution, reproduction and domination modelled on Marx’s account of the Trinity Formula.