Felix Stein: Blinded by the slide: Ignorance and the commodification of expertise
Published in Critique of Anthropology.
This article investigates how commodification operates with reference to expertise, rather than material objects. By drawing on the work of German management consultants, it highlights three forms of ignorance that arise as part of commodifying expertise. These are here described as ignorance due to profit, ignorance due to rhetoric and ignorance due to strong assumptions. These forms of ignorance render invisible the wider socio-economic effects of consulting, hide the degree to which corporate representations may not reflect the world they purport to describe, and postulate specific yet highly skewed understandings of freedom regarding human subjects. Taken together, they point out that a distinguishing feature of the commodification of expertise, vis-à-vis that of material objects, is that it provides greater scope for the creation and use of ignorance, as it blurs the boundaries between commodity and context.