Pierre Bourdieu’s work on symbolic value in the field of cultural production is surprisingly useful as a model for explaining the value of financial assets. As my recent posts have argued, financial value depends on symbolic narratives that claim certain qualities for the assets concerned and seek to associate them with particular theories of value. Bourdieu’s account of the art market examines similar processes of attributing value to works of art.
My book Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy argues that we should explain the economy in terms of complexes of appropriative practices, while my earlier work stresses that causal influence is exerted by entities – people, objects, and social entities like organisations (which are in turn composed of people and often objects too). In this post I propose to explain the relation between the two – and the explanation is of wider importance because it leads us to think about how some social structures can be built on or from other social structures.
My second extract from Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy discusses the concept of a complex of appropriative practices. It contrasts various applications of the concept with Marxist approaches to capitalism as a mode of production.
This post reproduces text from the opening pages of my 2016 book Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy. The central original contribution of this book is to propose a new framework that enables us both to see and to analyse a vast range of diverse economic forms, and to illustrate that framework by applying it to cases in the contemporary digital economy.
As a realist who uses the concept of practices (not least in my book, Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy), I’ve occasionally been surprised by hostility to the concept from some other critical realists.Here I’d like to defend the concept, while putting some caveats around how realists should use it.