Social relations between things

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To say that money expresses social relations between things is to emphasize that money exists as (1) a relation between individuals insofar as they belong to a group, or (2) as a relation between groups, or (3) as a relation between an individual and a group.

Distinguishing characteristics

Distinguishing characteristics of money as a social relation between things includes:

  • that commodities are, vis-a-vis the money-form, expressed in terms of a specific social relation to other commodities implies that the determinate aspects of this relation are the result of historically contingent factors; that is, they are always subject to change.
  • the German word Verhältnis can mean "relation", "proportion", or "ratio". Thus, the relationships could be qualititative, quantitative or both.
  • that the "[f]etishism of commodities has its origin, as the foregoing analysis has already shown, in the peculiar social character of the labour that produces them.


"The categories of bourgeois economy consist of such like forms. They are forms of thought expressing with social validity the conditions and relations of a definite, historically determined mode of production, viz., the production of commodities. The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labour as long as they take the form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so soon as we come to other forms of production." [Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 1, Section 4]

See also