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For the last forty years, sociologists have mainly focused on the social construction of reality and the processes of qualification and categorization. This approach has laid emphasis on the role of critical stances on the manufacturing of social life, but it has also widened the gap between economics and sociology: Prices have been analyzed in the field of economics, while sociology has mainly been called upon to consider the study of values. The present paper draws its analysis from a corpus of marketing handbooks specialized in the fields of art, luxury and tourism. It sketches a program aiming to reincorporate into the analysis of construction of social reality the prices and reflexive moves developed by actors when they are confronted with deep changes in relative prices. This perspective will enable us to grasp the strategies and discourses of actors who refer to values in order to legitimate or criticize a price in a context of uncertainty. These processes are particularly noticeable in today’s Western European societies, in the fields that we call “enrichment economy,” in which the past has become a trade value.


  • Price
  • value
  • critique
  • marketing
  • uncertainty
Luc Boltanski
Arnaud Esquerre
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