Some examples of reification:

1. Growing up in the US, one might come to think that driving on the right side of the road is somehow "natural," "inevitable," or perhaps even "decreed by the gods." However, it is clearly an arbitrary social human creation that could be different and that could be changed. If you don't think so, just close your eyes and think of England . . .

Question: What would happen if you individually decided that since driving on the right was an arbitrary human imposition on the world, you felt like driving on the left from now on?

Question: Would it, in principle, be impossible to change in this country from driving on the right to driving on the left? And what would it take to do that?

Challenge: Develop a brief critique of the reification of automobiles in the US.


2. For Marx, one of the key critics of reification, religions are prime examples of the typical dynamics involved in reification. In Marx's view, gods are obviously human creations, projections of our imagination (see: projection theory; Feuerbach; atheism) that nevertheless come to rule over human beings, as if they were more real and powerful than their creators. His humanist critique of religion intends to revert this process of reification and to reinstate us as the true authors of our social world:

Challenge: Develop a brief Marxist critique of capitalism along the lines of this critique of religion.

Here's a famous quote from Capital that perhaps best illustrates how Marx makes use of the notion of reification for his critique of both religion and capitalism: The fetishism of commodities. (see also: fetishism)