Selected Article


A flank movement in the understanding of valuation


Muniesa, Fabian


International audience

The sociological understanding of valuation often starts with an idea of value as something that something has by virtue of how people consider it (that is, it is socially constructed, a convention, a social representation, a projection). At some point, however, analysis also often draws a contrast between this sort of appraisal and some other type of value that the thing may have as a result of its own condition (what it costs, how it is made, with what kind of labour, money and materials, what it is worth in relation to objective standards and fundamental metrics). Dissatisfaction with this binary approach has been expressed in various quarters, but the pragmatist contribution of John Dewey provides a particularly useful resource with which to engage with the subject. This article reviews some aspects of this dissatisfaction, with a focus on the pragmatist idea of valuation considered as an action. I discuss this idea in relation to financial valuation, referring in particular to early pedagogical materials on corporation finance elaborated in the context of the professionalization of business administration. Finally I elaborate on the usefulness of a pragmatist stance in the understanding of financial valuation today.