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Contribution to Collected Edition

Account of the Past: Mechanisms of Quality Construction in the Market for Antiques


Bogdanova,  Elena
International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Bogdanova, E. (2013). Account of the Past: Mechanisms of Quality Construction in the Market for Antiques. In J. Beckert, & C. Musselin (Eds.), Constructing Quality: The Classification of Goods in Markets (pp. 153-173). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-AE6D-1
This chapter discusses storytelling as a mechanism for reducing quality uncertainty in the market for antiques and as a complement to technical expertise and historical authentication. Antiques are objects from the past, and their quality is uncertain because their history is almost never completely known. Market actors therefore face the necessity of finding the mechanisms that help to reduce quality uncertainty and facilitate market transactions. Authentication, which may include technical expertise, is the conventional tool for establishing the origins of an object. But in many market situations the provenance of an object cannot be established because its origins are unknown or because obtaining an expertise is too costly and time-consuming, so market actors avoid running such tests. Storytelling is used as an alternative market tool to facilitate the transactions. The chapter explains why stories are useful market tools and how market actors use them.