Historical Social Research

Patrik Aspers, Markets, Evaluations and Rankings [Abstract]

Starting from the problem of economic coordination, this article defines markets as a social structure for the exchange of rights in which offers are evaluated and priced, and compete with one another. It identifies temporality, the roles of buyers and sellers, the voluntary nature of trade, property rights and competition as key features distinguishing markets from trade and other forms of economic coordination. In order to function, markets require a shared understanding of a product, a common culture as rules of behavior and an agreement over the economic value of an offer. Finally, the article distinguishes between “fixed” and “switch-role markets” to show that it is necessary to speak of markets in plural.