Historical Social Research

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Karoline Krenn: Segmented Intermediation. Advice Concepts in German Financial Services. [Abstract]

This article focuses on classification as an ordering component in the intermediation between production and consumption in markets. Classifications and corresponding categories build the cognitive infrastructure for engagements in production, distribution, and employment and consumption. In this article I emphasize the discriminating aspects of segmentation resulting from social grouping along categories. Segmentation structures the allocation of resources by means of access restrictions and distribution mechanisms among other things. Empirically, I explore the access to the client-orientated advice of private clients in the context of financial services. Interview data suggests that advisers of “high net worth” clients are able to maintain their client-orientation against organizational constraints. As remarkable as this finding is, it also shows that segmentation leads to adverse consequences regarding access to client-oriented advice. Opening up financial advice to lower income groups is far away from implementing consumer pre-eminence. The theoretical contribution of this article is to confirm the potential of market classifications for the study of market intermediation, which will be elaborated in a prospective research agenda.

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