[-empyre-] Value

Jörgen Skågeby jorgen.skageby at ims.su.se
Mon Jun 9 16:03:30 EST 2014

Hi all,

I would agree that value is produced and negotiated in the intersection between producers and consumers and are expressed in the way e.g. digital media objects are transferred and shared. While the bulk of research has focused on use and exchange value, I would also propose that there are cross-disciplinary influences that more recently have emphasized, not only the importance of social bonding value, but also ethical value and aesthetical values.

Social bonding value (Godbout & Caillé), which is often referred to as the most important value in gift-giving research, is concerned with the social ties between people and how these are managed and maintained through the exchange of goods and services. As mentioned there is also reason (at times) to consider additional “soft” values in relation to social media sharing. Research in interaction design, but also research in economic anthropology and sociology, has come to highlight ethical and aesthetical values. An ethical value relates to the risks and responsabilities a user may perceive when using or sharing a particular media object. It could relate to for example social justice, truth, democracy or principles of equality. The aesthetical value relates to a sensory and immediate experience. Ideally the aesthetical value is connected to an affective experience that brings about a sensation of beauty, fulfilment and purpose.

Further, in terms of immaterial, digital, affective or creative labor I would propose a combined reading of Murdock’s notion of "moral economies" and van Doorn’s notion of ”virtual-digital-material actualization" and suggest that these conceptualizations can be fruitfully combined into a 9-field model consisting of:

Virtual - Digital - Material

Commodity - Public Good - Gift

…by which we arrive at a model where we can start to think about differences and similarities between virtual commodities, digital gifts, material public goods etc.

This model is of course a simplification (e.g. in relation to the ”post-digital”). Nevertheless, as practices and objects travel across the levels and types, the simplicity of the model is meant to stimulate discussion on where to draw borders, how to theorize continuities and where to identify disruptions.

Jörgen Skågeby, PhD
Dept. of Media Studies, Sthm univ. Swe.

8 jun 2014 kl. 19:22 skrev Timothy Taylor <tdtaylor at ucla.edu<mailto:tdtaylor at ucla.edu>>:

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Hi all

Here’s the gist of my thinking of questions of value, labor, and cultural commodities such as music.

Art objects and other cultural commodities are not special types of commodities, as some have written (or assumed). They are commodities like any other, produced for the purpose of exchange in a capitalist market, generating surplus value for capitalists. They differ, however, in their value. This assertion contradicts much of the research on cultural commodities, which holds that they in fact are different from other commodities, and that the labor that produces them is a special type of labor (called “immaterial” by some, “creative” by others, and affective by still others). David Graeber’s work on value, which draws on the two main historical approaches (from Marx and Marcel Mauss, usually thought to be in opposition) has been useful in attempting to characterize value in today’s neoliberal capitalism, in which the value of cultural commodities must be evaluated not only in terms of use-value and exchange-value (and Maussian gift-exchange), but value as measured by people’s action, which can be measured in terms of traffic on social media. Streaming audio services build in ways to create and share playlists, and follow others’ tastes. Billboard magazine, which has maintained charts on best-selling recordings since the mid-1930s, introduced in 2010 a new chart called “The Social 50,” which tracks the buzz of various artists and recordings on social media, a development that registers how important this form of value has become.




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