This is the last of four extracts from the introductory chapter of my recent book Inventing Value (Cambridge UP, 2022). “The argument builds on work… Read More »Inventing Value: Taking a realist perspective
Materially Social Blog
This is the third of four extracts from the introductory chapter of my recent book Inventing Value (Cambridge UP, 2022). “The explosion of financial assets over… Read More »Inventing Value: Financial value vs social value?
This is the second of four posts composed of extracts from the introductory chapter of my recent book Inventing Value (Cambridge UP, 2022). “The second,… Read More »Inventing Value: financial value in practice
Commentators are often dismissive of Bitcoin buyers, writing them off as naive victims of a fraudulent bubble. But if we look more carefully, we can trace the history of Bitcoin through five key narratives. Each has drawn in a different group of buyers and in doing so contributed to its long-term growth in value.
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.
For mainstream economists, the prices of financial assets like shares and derivatives are determined by objective assessments of the future revenue streams that the holder of the asset is entitled to. But it is far more plausible to see them as the outcome of interactions between a variety of different financial valuation conventions, or lay theories of value as I called valuation conventions in my earlier post. This post reflects on the contributions of John Maynard Keynes, André Orléan and Jens Beckert to explaining how valuation conventions influence financial asset values.
Different people may assess the value of a thing differently, but to reach agreement on values, they need to offer explanations of those assessments in terms that other people can find reasonable. Usually this means that they will need to invoke socially acceptable standards of value to justify their assessments. I call these standards lay theories of value, and this post introduces this concept.
Roy Bhaskar explicitly identified himself as a moral realist, and offered several different justifications for this in the course of his work. Some critical realists accept all of those justifications, some are ambivalent or selective about which they accept, and others like Andrew Sayer and myself, for example, reject moral realism outright. This post focuses on one of Bhaskar’s arguments: the theory of explanatory critique.