Value, Worth and Valuation

5 March 2010, 10:30 - 17:30

CRASSH 17 Mill Lane


Online Registration is now  closed



Value, Worth and Valuation


Interdisciplinary Workshop



The purpose of the workshop is to debate the notions of value, worth and valuation from different disciplinary perspectives. This wants to examine philosophical, anthropological, sociological and political approaches to the question what value is, or what value should be and how it is interlinked processes of valuation and the attribution of worth. The main focus is theoretical; and its consequences possibly political. What are the effects of the domination of commodity values? What are alternative ways of thinking about value? And is there politically progressive potential in rethinking mechanisms of valuation and its underlying concepts that determine what is valuable, rational and legitimate?

Value is a key notion in exchange and few would disagreement with the claim that the “[m]arket has emerged as the most politically significant institution of valuation in the world today” (Gregory, 1997, p. 16). On the market, economic value is revealed through consumers’ subjective preferences. But value does not remain a purely economic concept, but is interlinked with notions of social worth. Individuals, organizations and whole nations are evaluated in terms of their capacity to create value. Orthodox economists and business scholars devote their disciplinary energies to decipher the conundrum of value creation. But what is value and why is something valued? What does economic value mean in terms of individual lives and human flourishing? Against the neo-classical paradigm of rationality, new sociological approaches emphasize that what is seen as valuable, rational or legitimate is constituted by cultural norms (Meyer and Rowan, 1977), or economies of worth which allow for a plurality of value spheres with their own valuation mechanisms (Boltanski and Thévenot, 2006[1991]). Citing Dewey, David Stark draws attention to the double meanings that words of economic value and social worth have in ordinary speech: “praise, prize and price are all derived from the same Latin word; that appreciate and appraise were once used inter-changeably” (Dewey in Stark, 2009).



Following the interdisciplinary mission of the Business & Society Research Group, the workshop provides a forum to connect researchers from different disciplines.

The workshop participation fee is £15.00 and £10.00 for students, registration includes tea/coffee breaks and lunch. Places are limited. Registration online is now closed. 

If you would like to join us for dinner (at own expense), please choose the dinner option when you confirm your place.

Unfortunately,we cannot offer accommodation. 
Hotels near CRASSH include Crowns Plaza, The Royal Cambridge Hotel, Fenners Hotel and Hotel Du Vin

The links bellow provides a list of Hotels and Bed & Breakfast options, also the link “Visitors information” (on the right hand side of this page)

Only for Academics and  Students:


Organizers and Further Inquiries


Vito Laterza

Social Anthropology

University of Cambridge


Juliane Reinecke

Judge Business School

University of Cambridge


André Spicer

Warwick Business School

University of Warwick



CRASSH Business and Society Research Group

The CRASSH Business and Society Research Group aims to provide an interdisciplinary forum for researchers investigating the cultures of capitalism and the social and ethical dimensions of organizations, business, and economics.


Boltanski, L. & Thévenot, L., 2006 [1991]. On Justification. Economies of Worth, translated by Catherine Porter Princeton: Princeton University Press.

 Gregory, C., 1997. Savage Money. The Anthropology and Politics of Commodity Exchange, Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.  

Meyer, J.W. & Rowan, B., 1977. Institutionalized organizations: formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology, 83, 340.  

Stark, D., 2009. The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.




Administrative contact  Esther Lamb (Grad/Fac Programme Manager)


Provisional Programme

Juliane Reinecke, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge

Davide Ravasi, Department of Management, Università Bocconi
Kitchen tool or piece of art? Symbolic value and the design of product forms

Celia Lury, Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London

Umut Yildirim, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
What is in the plastic bag? Value an the informal economy of anti-depressants

Adam Arvidsson, Department of Social and Political Studies, University of Milan
Ethical Economy. A Theory of value for the information society, or less ambitiously, Ethics and value in the information economy

Chris Land, Institute of Management, University of St Gallen / Essex Business School, University of Essex , and
Steffen Böhm
, Essex Business School, University of Essex
After the New Economy: Value, primitive accumulation and the global division of labour

André Spicer, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick



10.30 - 11.00

Registration (coffee provided)

11.00 - 11.15

Welcome and Introduction


11.15 - 12.45

Session 1: Brand Value and Value Consumption

Liz Moor, Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London
Brand Valuation 

12.45 - 13.45

Lunch break

13.45 - 16.00 

Session 2: Anthropological Approaches: Value and its Others

Introduction & Session Chair:

Irene Peano, Dept of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

David Graeber, Department of Anthropology Goldsmiths, University of London
Value versus Debt - a possibly false antinomy for contemporary social theory?


Vito Laterza, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
Capitalism and its Other: value, economy and religion in a Swazi Pentecostal business town

16.00 - 16.30

Tea/ Coffee Break

16.30 - 18.00

Session 3:  Economic Sociology of Valuation Systems


18.00 - 18.15




OPTIONAL:  Drinks and Dinner from 6.15pm (cost not included in the fee but please choose the dinner-option when you register online)