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Journal Article

Contextual Knowledge


Aspers,  Patrik
Soziologie des Marktes, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;
Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden;

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Aspers, P. (2006). Contextual Knowledge. Current Sociology, 54(5), 745-763. doi:10.1177/0011392106066814.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-4D09-F
The contemporary economy is characterized by design and marketing as means to create brands and market niches. An aesthetic economy is made up of many aesthetic markets that are distinguished by changing products and lack of an entrenched quality order to evaluate them. Aesthetic creative work plays a central role in this type of economy. This work includes design of the products sold in markets. The purpose of this article is to study what is here called contextual knowledge. The suggested approach enables us to better understand and research creative aesthetic work and aesthetic workers' knowledge. Three qualitatively different dimensions of contextuality are discussed. First, contextuality is related to the network of actors who contribute to the production of the items or the activities. Second, contextuality is related to various arenas of aesthetic expressions, such as visual art, which can be used as a source of inspiration by aesthetic creative workers. The third dimension of contextuality refers to the final consumer markets. Contextual knowledge must be seen against a backdrop of a shared lifeworld and it involves interpretation. This article draws on material from two empirical studies, one on the garment industry, and one on fashion photographers.