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See also: réification


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First attested around 1846; a macaronic calque of German Verdinglichung, using -ification (making) for ver- + -lich + -ung, and Latin rēs (thing) for Ding (thing)



reification (countable and uncountable, plural reifications)

  1. The consideration of an abstract thing as if it were concrete, or of an inanimate object as if it were living.
    • 2002, Timothy Bewes, Reification: Or The Anxiety of Late Capitalism, Verso, →ISBN, page 146:
      The reification of art and religion, a symptom of their historical obsolescence, takes the form of their instrumentalization, their reduction to a mere use value. At this point they become ‘cultural goods’, writes Adorno, and ‘are no longer taken quite seriously by anybody.’
    • 2018, Pieter Seuren, Saussure and Sechehaye [] , BRILL, →ISBN, page 209:
      Computer scientists found out how functional reification is in programming languages: they call it ‘object-oriented programming’ [] .
    • 2022 September 20, Danielle Carr, “Mental Health Is Political”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      Reification swaps out a political problem for a scientific or technical one; it’s how, for example, the effects of unregulated tech oligopolies become “social media addiction,” how climate catastrophe caused by corporate greed becomes a “heat wave” — and, by the way, how the effect of struggles between labor and corporations combines with high energy prices to become “inflation.”
  2. The consideration of a human being as an impersonal object.
  3. (programming) A process that makes a computable/addressable object out of a non-computable/addressable one; or a concrete class out of a generic one.
    • 2020, Marco Faella, Seriously Good Software: Code that works, survives, and wins, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 251:
      Contrary to Java, C++ and C# implement generics via reification, meaning that each specific version of a generic class, like List<String> is converted into a concrete class, either at compile time (C++) or at runtime (C#).
  4. (linguistics) The transformation of a natural-language statement into a form in which its actions and events are quantifiable variables.


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