Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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core definition

Objectivation is the conversion of a concept or abstraction into an object.

explanatory context

Objectivation in social research and philosophy has several nuances. Marx, for example, sees objectivation as primarily the objectivication of labour through commodification. Feminists refer to objectivication of women as a result of them being objects of male gaze. For some hermeneuticists intent on retaining an objective understanding (such as Betti), objectivation refers to the establishment of objective concepts.


Objectivation (Vergegenstandlichung) is the process by which a person externalises him/herself (usually through labour or the use of language). The objectivated person thereby becomes an object and part of the environment. Being part of the environment, the objectivation may react back on the person (e.g. Marx's idea of alienation).


In general, objectivation is the actualisation of the subject in cultural objects.


In Jungian psychology objectivation is a process of differentiating ones ego from both other persons and the contents of one's unconscious.

analytical review

In the feminist context, Fredrickson and Roberts (2006) refer to objectivication theory in their reappraisal of the 'male gaze':

Objectification theory posits that girls and women are typically acculturated to internalize an observer's perspective as a primary view of their physical selves. This perspective on self can lead to habitual body monitoring, which, in turn, can increase women's opportunities for shame and anxiety, reduce opportunities for peak motivational states, and diminish awareness of internal bodily states. Accumulations of such experiences may help account for an array of mental health risks that disproportionately affect women: unipolar depression, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders. Objectification theory also illuminates why changes in these mental health risks appear to occur in step with life-course changes in the female body.

associated issues


related areas

See also







Researching the Real World Section 1.7 for a detailed discussion of objectivity and subjectivity


Fredrickson, B.L. and Roberts, T-A., 1997, 'Toward understanding women's lived experiences and mental health risks', Psychology of Women Quarterly 21(2), pp. 173–206.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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