Constructing Quality: The Classification of Goods in Markets
Jens Beckert, Christine Musselin (eds.)
How can we engage in a market relationship when the quality of the goods we want to acquire is unknown, invisible, or uncertain? For market exchange to be possible, purchasers and suppliers of goods must be able to assess the quality of a product in relation to other products. Only by recognizing qualities and perceiving quality differences can purchasers make non-random choices, and price differences between goods be justified. "Quality" is not a natural given, but the outcome of a complex process of construction involving producers, consumers, and market intermediaries engaged in judgment, evaluation, categorization, and measurement.
The authors in this volume investigate the processes through which the quality of goods is established, how product qualities are contested, and how they change over time. Covering a broad range of markets in which quality is difficult to assess, the cases include halal food, funeral markets, wine, labor, school choice, financial products, antiques, and counterfeit goods. The book contributes to the sociology of markets and connects to the larger issue of the constitution of social order through cognitive processes of classification.
Introduction, Jens Beckert and Christine Musselin
Part I Investing in Quality
Contributions from Zsuzsanna Vargha, Patrik Aspers, Agnes van Zanten
Part II The Quality of Labor
Contributions from Emmanuelle Marchal, Philipp Gerlach, Elena Bogdanova, Pierre François
Part IV The Morality of Quality
Contributions from Frans van Waarden and Robin van Dalen, Dominic Akyel
Part V Consuming Quality
Contributions from Sophie Dubuisson-Quellier, Frank Wehinger, Jörg Rössel and Jens Beckert
Vigorous Verbs: Conveying the Action of People Producing Qualities, Wendy Nelson Espeland