The Worth of Goods: Valuation and Pricing in the Economy

Jens Beckert, Patrik Aspers (eds.)

22. Juli 2011

MPIfG Book


New York: Oxford University Press, 2011
360 pages
ISBN 978-0-19-959465-8

"The Worth of Goods provides a useful panorama of research on valuation and offers a series of concepts and empirical cases that bring to light the diversity and complexity of economic value production mechanisms." (Étienne Nouguez, Revue francaise de sociologie)

» Publisher's page
Beckert, Jens, Patrik Aspers (Hrsg.)
The Worth of Goods: Valuation and Pricing in the Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.


How do we place value on goods – and, importantly, why? Valuation and pricing are core issues in the market economy, but understanding of these concepts and their interrelation is weak. In response, The Worth of Goods takes a sociological approach to the perennial but timely question of what makes a product valuable.
Structured in three parts, it first examines value in the broader sense – moral values and how they are formed, and the relations between economic and non-economic values – discussing such matters as the value of an oil spill, the price of a scientific paper, value in ethical consumption, and imaginative value. The second part discusses the issues surrounding valuation in aesthetic markets, specifically wine, fashion models, art, and the creative industries. The third part analyzes valuation in financial markets – credit rating agencies, stock exchange markets, and industrial production.
This pioneering volume brings together leading social scientists to provide a range of theoretical tools and case studies for understanding price and the creation of value in markets within social and cultural contexts and preconditions. It is an important source for scholars in economics, sociology, anthropology, and political science interested in how markets work, and how value is established.
Readership: Academics, researchers, and advanced students in Business and Management, Sociology, Economics, and Marketing.


1  Value in Markets
Patrik Aspers and Jens Beckert

Part I  What is Valuable?
2  Price and Prejudice: On Economics and the Enchantment (and Disenchantment) of Nature
Marion Fourcade
3  What Is the Price of a Scientific Paper?
Lucien Karpik
4  The Value of Ethics: Monitoring Normative Compliance in Ethical Consumption Markets
Peter Gourevitch
5  The Transcending Power of Goods: Imaginative Value in the Economy
Jens Beckert

Part II  Aesthetic Markets
6  Symbolic Value and the Establishment of Prices: Globalization of the Wine Market
Marie-France Garcia-Parpet
7  Pricing Looks: Circuits of Value in Fashion Modeling Markets
Ashley Mears
8  Damien's Dangerous Idea: Valuing Contemporary Art at Auction
Olav Velthuis
9  Infinite Surprises: On the Stabilization of Value in the Creative Industries
Michael Hutter

Part III  Financial Markets
10  Forecasting as Valuation: The Role of Ratings and Predictions in the Subprime Mortgage Crisis in the United States
Akos Rona-Tas and Stefanie Hiss
11  Selling Value in Kenya's Nairobi Stock Exchange
Christopher Yenkey
12  Coping with Contingencies in Equity Option Markets: The "Rationality" of Pricing
Charles W. Smith

Part IV  Organizations
13  Valuing Products as Cultural Symbols: A Conceptual Framework and Empirical Illustration
Davide Ravasi, Violina Rindova, and Ileana Stigliani

14  What's Valuable?
David Stark


Jens Beckert

Jens Beckert is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne and Professor of Sociology at the University of Cologne. He has held visiting positions at Princeton University, Harvard University, Cornell University, the European University Institute, and Sciences Po in Paris. The main focus of his research is economic sociology with a special emphasis on markets, organization studies, the sociology of inheritance and social theory. He is the author of Beyond the Market: the Social Foundations of Economic Efficiency (Princeton University Press 2002) and Inherited Wealth (Princeton University Press 2008). His articles have been published in journals such as Theory & Society, Sociological Theory, Organization Studies, and the European Journal of Sociology.

Patrik Aspers

Patrik Aspers holds a PhD in Sociology from Stockholm University (2001). He has been resident at institutions such as Harvard University, Columbia University, the London School of Economics, and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. He has chaired the economic sociology research network of the European Sociological Association, and is President of the Swedish Sociological Association. The main focus of his research is on economic sociology, especially markets. He has published two books on markets: Markets in Fashion: A Phenomenological Approach (2nd. ed. Routledge 2006) and Orderly Fashion: A Sociology of Markets (Princeton University Press 2010). Aspers has written on classical economists such as Alfred Marshall and Vilfredo Pareto, and published in journals such as the Journal of Economic Geography and Theory and Society.

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