Hostile Worlds and Questionable Speculation: Recognizing the Plurality of Views About Art and the Market
Source TitleEconomic Action in Theory and Practice: Anthropological Investigations
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
University of Melbourne Author/sCoslor, Erica
AffiliationManagement and Marketing
CitationsCoslor, E. (2010). Hostile Worlds and Questionable Speculation: Recognizing the Plurality of Views About Art and the Market. Wood, D (Ed.). Economic Action in Theory and Practice: Anthropological Investigations, (1), 30, pp.209-224. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Access StatusOpen Access
The “hostile worlds” view argues that money corrupts the meaning of art, but some suggest this is a dated concept in describing the art market. Instead of dismissing this view, this paper argues that we need a typology of beliefs about art, money and commensuration; what could be understood as a pluralist understanding. Based on ethnographic research on the high-end contemporary art market in New York and London, I find that collectors, investors and art world experts often have different views about the relationship between art and money. This recognition is significant because art is a symbolic good with assigned, rather than intrinsic value, meaning that the value of art can be damaged for people holding hostile worlds views when the mechanisms that maintain the appropriate balance between art and money break down or are disregarded. In this sense, hostile worlds views create a performativity effect.
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