The social construction of quality: Status dynamics in the market for contemporary art

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The association between quality assessment and status attainment is fundamental in the sociology of markets. However, past literature failed to explain status dynamics such as mobility in the status order where highly uncertain goods make quality hard to measure. This paper contributes to the understanding of this relationship by identifying various social mechanisms behind quality evaluation processes. It also explores why certain products are considered to be more valuable than others. The results demonstrate that only through exchange relations and active participation in the marketplace (what I call status actions) can actors affect the social definition of what are perceived as high-quality products. The results also provide evidence of two major market outcomes: conser-vativism and centralization. The findings improve the understanding of the evolution and dynamics of status in uncertain markets from both micro- and macro-sociology of markets. These processes are illustrated in a study of the art market in Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermwp030
Pages (from-to)511-536
Number of pages26
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 23 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Art market
  • Economic sociology
  • Exchange relations
  • Status
  • Uncertainty
  • Value

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (all)


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