We are featuring a new long article: General Sentiment to be published in episodes in the coming time, written by Adam Arvidsson. This is his first installment presenting an articulation for a new approach to value in the information economy.
Essentially, we are used to think about value as related to time- labor time, machine time and what have you. That was the natural way of conceiving of value in the industrial society.
Our suggestion is that we ever more tend to think about value as related to affect, and that such a conception of affective value is becoming progressively institutionalized in an emerging reputation economy.
This paper is intended for an academic audience and it is a bit heavy on the theoretical side, but it does attempt to do the necessary groundwork in clearing the conceptual jungle around value, time and affect.
The whole academic paper can be downloaded here
As an overview of the concepts taken into examinations and the conclusions drawn by Adam in this article, we offer you a shorter read in the next link.
The modern economy was organized around what David Stark has called a ‘Parsonian Pact‘, by means of which ‘value’ and ‘values’ were kept separate (Stark, 2009:7). This applied in theory, where value concerns and questions about the origins, desirability or legitimacy of preferences and motivations were considered to be outside the object domain of economics, and, conversely, the question of how economic value was formed was considered beyond the reach of the disciplines, like sociology and anthropology, that studied ‘values’. More importantly, it also applied in practice.
The main criterion for the objectification and measurement of value that was applied throughout the modern corporate economy was a notion of productive time that was considered to be devoid of any affective dimension.
Today it seems that this ‘Parsonian Pact’ is in the process of being overcome. Phenomena such as Ethical Consumerism, Corporate Social Responsibility, Fair Trade, and Socially Responsible Investment are all on the rise (Vogel, 2005, Stehr et al. 2006). And they all testify to a willingness to allow a broader range of affective concerns to influence the prices of assets and consumer goods, enabling value decisions about the legitimacy and desirability of the goals that guide economic pursuits to enter the picture. Beneath these trends lies a deeper structural tendency in which so called intangible assets, and in particular, brands have become ever more important as components of the market value of companies. (In 1950 intangibles accounted for roughly 20 per cent of the market value of the S & P 500, today the figure is 70 per cent. Brands account for, on average 30 per cent of market value, although this varies considerably between sectors and companies (Lev, 2001; Mandel et al, 2006; Nakamura, 2001; Gerzema, 2008)) Like many other intangible assets, such as ‘knowledge capital’, ‘reputation’ or ‘corporate identity’- the terminology is diverse and ill defined in this field – brands represent the pricing of a wide range of affects, like the experience that consumers, and, increasingly, other actors such as employees, attribute to a brand, their perception of its ‘fairness’ or social utility, or the loyalty that they feel towards it.