Knut J. Ims, Ove Jakobsen, & Laszlo Zsolnai ‘Product as process — Commodities in mechanic and organic ontology.’ Ecological Economics, 2015, vol. 110, pp. 11-14
This article explores and interprets the product concept in two different ontologies: mechanistic and organic. A required shift in the ontology for understanding commodities has crucial implications for economic theory and practice. In mainstream economics the product is understood in terms of mechanistic ontology: as a fixed and atomized commodity, to be exhibited in the shelves of a supermarket. In the organic ontology of ecological economics the product is part of a dynamic network of relations involving the fields of economy, ecology and society. We argue that it is necessary to move beyond the product concept of mainstream economics in order to realize that economic actors share responsibility for the societal and environmental impact of what is produced, how the commodities are produced and (re)distributed, how profit is shared between the actors in the production, and the (re)distribution network, and that “waste” is recycled as a resource. We use the social labels “Fair trade” and “Rugmark” to illustrate the product as a process.