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Contribution to Collected Edition

The Transcending Power of Goods: Imaginative Value in the Economy


Beckert,  Jens
Soziologie des Marktes, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Beckert, J. (2011). The Transcending Power of Goods: Imaginative Value in the Economy. In J. Beckert, & P. Aspers (Eds.), The Worth of Goods: Valuation and Pricing in the Economy (pp. 106-128). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-406F-6
This chapter examines the transcending power of goods by focusing on a specific form of symbolic value termed ‘imaginative value’. It first considers the question of what attracts consumers to the goods they purchase before turning to a discussion of the positional and imaginative sources of value, with special reference to the work of Emile Durkheim. Drawing upon Durkheim's analysis of totemistic religions, it then explores how the connection between material objects and values is created and maintained. It also addresses the issue of change in the symbolic valuation of objects, a phenomenon not observed in the sacred objects of religion. The chapter concludes by assessing the implications of the argument for investigating the valuation of goods on markets.