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reificationthe interpretation of an abstract general concept (e.g. the STATE) as ‘real’, especially when this is considered to be done illegitimately or misleadingly Thus METHODOLOGICAL INDIVIDUALISTS may take the view that others, e.g. functionalists, reify general concepts such as 'society’ or 'structure. Use of the term originated within MARXISM to refer to the tendency of many non-Marxists, as well as some Marxists, to attribute a rigid ‘thinglike’ status to what should more properly be seen as a complex and changing set of social relationships (see CAPITAL, COMMODITY FETISHISM). However, one sociologist's unacceptable reification may be perfectly acceptable to another. If all general concepts are considered abstract but with a potentially ‘real’ reference, any hard and fast distinction between legitimate and illegitimate reification collapses. Thus there is no standard line in sociology on what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable forms of reification.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
a philosophical and sociological concept introduced by K. Marx, referring to a historically transitional form of social relations in which relations between people assume the appearance of relations between things.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.