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A commodity in the sense of economics is a material economic good which is the object of the trade in goods and can be considered as an object of the use of goods .

Word origin

The “commodity” as a word ( linguistic symbol ) has an Indo-European root as an economic term ( meaning of the word ).

The root word “war” initially referred to cattle, then to traded slaves (“waru”) and packaged things ( Latin “vasa” ), all in all goods in the broadest sense. Even the capital ( Latin caput / Capitalis "what the head / As for life") goes back to the livestock. The desire for cattle ( Latin pecus / pecunia , "fortune") is the etymological background of the English word "war" for war. The meaning of "goods" in German has a term in English is no equivalent, but emerged with the same meaning in most compound words such as hardware , software , ransomware or earthenware ( English earthenware ) on.

"Commodity" of what constitutes the conceptual abstraction sustainable under custody is taken, does not meet the original word meaning, but is a conceptually subordinate in language development step in Middle High German . For matters of trust such as “true”, “goods”, “value”, “waiting”, “landlord”, “economy”, a conceptually common etymology connects to the word family . The importance of the management of a house as an "economy" emerged in the 17th century.


According to Artur Kutzelnigg, the “goods” category is an umbrella term for the real economy - in the most general definition or realm of being, the object of economic activity . Kutzelnigg starts from the physical relationship that exists between humans and their environment. This basic bioeconomic meaning of “commodity” as a means of supporting life is given priority under the paradigm of sustainability in commodity theory . The cognitive object “commodity” in the sense of an agricultural product , coming from a physiocratic viewpoint, has long been shaped by scientific research into the material properties of commodities until Carl Günther Ludovici first called for an economic commodity theory in 1752. With his book “Preparation for Waarenkunde” in 1793, Johann Beckmann presented the economic aspects of goods for the first time. The camera operator Johann Beckmann has been considered the father of this field ever since . Since then, goods science has been a key qualification for training buyers and sellers . At the University of Cologne in 1961 the first chair for “economic goods theory” was established, which Kutzelnigg took over. Kutzelnigg gave the still common definition of the term goods. Goods are “movable economic goods that exist in limited quantities in nature or are technically manufactured by man and that serve to satisfy needs. They have exchange value and are the subject of trade or are eligible for it ”.

The social science perspective in economics defines the term “ good ” because it also includes services , further as “goods”. The distinction between services (by people) and things goes back to Roman law . In fact, however, the use value of the goods represents a service in kind.

The term “ product ” is common in business administration as a means of meeting demand , as a carrier of monetary profit in exchange value . Brand goods are standardized products and as a rule trademarks registered trademarks (on a commodity-mounted sign: French marque " brand ", carrier of the message is the packaging as an advertising medium ). The Trademark Act (MarkenG) deals with protected trademarks for goods, but assumes that the term goods are known. For example, signs may be used that are capable of “distinguishing the goods or services of one company from those of other companies” ( Section 3 (1) of the Trademark Act).

As a carrier of exchange values, the commodity is the object of trade as a commodity ; certain commodities that can be standardized are the commodities .

Economic theory of Marxism

In pre-capitalist societies, the vast majority of society was made up of peasants. These produced almost exclusively for their own use and did not yet conduct any noteworthy trade. The goods produced thus had an individual use value for the farmers . In capitalism, the manufactured labor products are exchanged via markets and thereby all labor products become commodities (Note: In capitalism, Marx also counted human labor among the commodities.) For an exchange transaction one needs a yardstick and that is why the commodities are assigned an exchange value , that of Use value can vary greatly. Marx referred to this merely ascribed reality as a commodity fetish . The double character of labor , which becomes visible in the commodity in the form of use value and exchange value, is a central theme of Marxist economics .

Economic theory of the market economy

A flow of goods moves between companies (production) and households ( consumption ). The flow of goods includes both goods (tangible) and services (intangible). The market price of these goods basically results from the balance between supply and demand. On the household side, market prices are influenced by changes in income, income tax rates and expectations (economic situation and the associated optimism and pessimism). On the business side, market prices are influenced by changes in material costs, taxes, productivity and wages. Freely acting entrepreneurs should ensure that consumers are efficiently supplied with goods through profit maximization and competition. In Germany, the provisions of the Commercial Code , the Civil Code or the UN Sales Convention apply to the purchase or exchange of goods . applied.

Merchandise management

The ERP is an essential part of the storage in companies and includes the procurement and distribution in commerce and industry . The incoming goods department checks the purchased goods via the incoming goods inspection , and the outgoing goods department records the goods sold. For the management of goods flows coming ERP systems are used.


In contrast to services , the focus of goods is on material production or material value . In special sub-areas of economics ( economic theory ), goods can generally stand for all goods that are offered and demanded on a market . Only in the broader sense in commercial law , the electricity for goods going land is not. In customs law , all physical objects are referred to as goods, but not things that are firmly attached to the human body, such as pacemakers and implants . The customs definition of goods differentiates between Union goods and non- Union goods . In everyday life , the concept of goods is restricted to consumer goods .

See also


  • Artur Kutzelnigg: Terminology of the categories of goods. , Franz Nowack Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1965.
  • Artur Kutzelnigg: word and term "goods". In: The commodity in the world view of the economy. Festschrift for Edmund Grünsteidl on his 70th birthday, Österreichischer Gewerbeverlag, Vienna 1970, pp. 24–32.
  • Leo Weisgerber: Word and goods . In: The goods in business and technology. Festschrift for Artur Kutzelnigg's 65th birthday. Verlag Neue Wirtschafts-Briefe, Herne / Berlin 1969, pp. 187–195.
  • Richard Kiridus-Göller: The commodity science in its tradition and meaning . In: Reinhard Löbbert (Ed.), Helmut Lungershausen (Red.): The goods being and appearing. Twelve texts about the world of goods in which we live. Verlag Europa-Lehrmittel, Haan-Gruiten 2002, pp. 179–200.- ISBN 3-8085-9857-3
  • Eberhard K. Seifert: On the sustainable rehabilitation of 'goods' .- In: Reinhard Löbbert (Ed.), Helmut Lungershausen (Red.): The goods being and appearing. Twelve texts about the world of goods in which we live. Verlag Europa-Lehrmittel, Haan-Gruiten 2002, pp. 201-211.- ISBN 3-8085-9857-3
  • Richard Kiridus-Göller / Eberhard K. Seifert (eds.): Evolution - goods - economy. Bioeconomic basics for commodity theory . oekom Verlag, Munich 2012.- ISBN 978-3-86581-317-6 .
  • Josef Hölzl : Introduction to goods analysis. de Gruyter, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-486-21334-8 .

Web links

Wikiquote: Ware  - Quotes
Wiktionary: Ware  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rudolf Seyffert, Wirtschaftslehre des Handels , 1972, p. 53
  2. Artur Kutzelnigg, The cigarette as a model case of economic goods theory , 1962, p. 9
  3. Gabler's Wirtschaftslexikon, 12th edition, 1988, p. 2599
  4. ^ Karl Marx , Das Kapital. Volume I , first chapter
  5. Introduction to Economics, Helmut Schuster, 4th edition, Linde, pp. 13–53
  6. UN Sales Convention, Chapter I., Article 1 Scope ( Memento of February 13, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).
  7. Miklos G. Zilahi-Szabo (ed.), Kleines Lexikon der Informatik , 1995, p. 597
  8. Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, Compact Lexicon Taxation and Auditing , 2013, p. 499
  9. Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, Compact Lexicon Taxation and Auditing , 2013, p. 499