AskDefine | Define commercialism

Dictionary Definition

commercialism n : transactions (sales and purchases) having the objective of supplying commodities (goods and services) [syn: commerce, mercantilism]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The practices, methods, aims, and spirit of commerce or business.
  2. The capitalist tendency to value profit over everything else.

Extensive Definition

Commercialism, in its original meaning, is the practices, methods, aims, and spirit of commerce or business. Today, however, it primarily refers to the tendency within capitalism to try to turn everything into objects and services sold for the purpose of generating profit; commercialization, where the value of everything, including such intangible things as happiness, health and beauty become measured in purely commercial, materialistic terms, and where public services are being privatised or outsourced to private companies. For this reason, commercialism is often closely associated with the corporate world.
The related term "commercialized" is often used in an accusing way, implying that someone, often an artist or musician, has compromised the quality of his work for monetary gain, which is called "selling out". It can, for example, be applied to:- A painter who uses his/her talent to do flattering, expensive portraits to order,
An independent music band that signs a contract with a major record label and then changes its music and/or appearance to become more appealing to a mass audience,
Or a novelist who switches from writing difficult "highbrow" novels to populistic thrillers.

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