Journal Article

The social construction of quality: status dynamics in the market for contemporary art

Tamar Yogev

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 8, issue 3, pages 511-536
Published in print July 2010 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online December 2009 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwp030
The social construction of quality: status dynamics in the market for contemporary art

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The association between quality assessment and status attainment is fundamental in the sociology of markets. However, past literature failed to explain status dynamics such as mobility in the status order where highly uncertain goods make quality hard to measure. This paper contributes to the understanding of this relationship by identifying various social mechanisms behind quality evaluation processes. It also explores why certain products are considered to be more valuable than others. The results demonstrate that only through exchange relations and active participation in the marketplace (what I call status actions) can actors affect the social definition of what are perceived as high-quality products. The results also provide evidence of two major market outcomes: conservativism and centralization. The findings improve the understanding of the evolution and dynamics of status in uncertain markets from both micro- and macro-sociology of markets. These processes are illustrated in a study of the art market in Israel.

Keywords: economic sociology; art market; exchange relations; uncertainty; value; status; Z13 economic sociology

Journal Article.  10315 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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