23 July 2021 News

Callon, M., Méadel, C., & Rabeharisoa, V. (2002). The economy of qualities. Economy and Society 31: 194-217

The aim of this paper is to highlight the main characteristics of what the authors call ‘the economy of qualities’. The authors show that qualifying products and positioning goods are major concerns for agents evolving within the ‘economy of qualities’. Competition in such an economy is structured through two basic mechanisms. The first is what the authors propose to call the process of singularization of products. The second is the mechanism whereby consumers are attached to and detached from, goods that are proposed to them. At the heart of these logics, one can find multiple socio-technical devices that are designed by economic agents, which ensure the distribution of cognitive competencies, and which constantly and finely tune supply and demand. Relying upon Jean Gadrey’s work, the authors claim that the economy of qualities is nowhere more effective than in services providing activities, and especially in those sectors that invest heavily in New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Finally, the authors suggest that, in the economy of qualities, the functioning and the organization of markets are issues that are shared by scholars and actors. In these highly reflexive markets, a collaboration between them is needed.