Publicity and Individual Responses

Geoffrey Brennan and Philip Pettit

in The Economy of Esteem

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199246489
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601460 | DOI:
Publicity and Individual Responses

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Esteem requires observation; and the magnitude of the esteem (or disesteem) on offer seems likely to be a function of audience size and quality. ‘Publicity’ can then be understood either in terms of increased audience size or in terms of reputation effects–where the esteem-givers are not direct observers. The case of ‘fame’ (and ‘infamy’) is characterized by the fact that it is a matter of common belief among a relevant population that the famous person is esteem-worthy. However, because that belief need not depend on direct observation, fame may prove vulnerable to the ‘emperor’s new clothes’ phenomenon–fame may be unstable.

Publicity is one of the primary levers by which esteem effects can be supported or suppressed. Accordingly, we examine briefly ‘publicity policy’ and isolate various decisions that are involved in mobilizing publicity policy most effectively, including whether the policy context is a ‘best shot’ or ‘weakest link’ one.

Keywords: audience; best shot; fame; honours and awards; reputation; weakest link

Chapter.  8662 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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