Measure for Measure: Forms of Valuation in France and the United States


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




This study provides an integrated understanding of the social and cultural bases of the measurement of value. It does so through an analysis of the relative social authority and efficacy of three types of valuation technologies in two social contexts (France and the United States): technologies for ranking; for indexing; and for establishing economic value. Three comparative case studies (conducted symmetrically in both countries) serve to organize my discussion of each technology: the ranking of wines; the indexing of digital material; the monetary valuation of nature. Taken together, these studies highlight the contrast between status-based and state-centered logics with democratic and market-based ones, and the relevance of social structural factors in the formation of judgments about value.