Charlotte Cloutier, HEC Montréal, Canada
Jean-Pascal Gond, City University London, UK
Louis-François Brodeur, HEC Montréal, Canada
Sociologists have long been interested in the notion of value and how it is “produced, diffused, assessed and institutionalized” (Lamont, 2012: 214). Individuals and groups (e)valuate things, people and actions everywhere and all the time. In order to attribute and assess value, people require means, measures and calculative devices, which are neither straightforward nor uncontroversial (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006; Callon, 1998; Callon & Muniesa, 2005). Such are the central topics of interest to the sociology of valuation and evaluation (SVE).
Growing reliance on market measures for evaluating areas of life previously under the realm of alternative standards (e.g., well-being, beauty, quality), notably in areas where they were previously absent, has created discomfort and resistance among many social actors (Bidet & Vatin, 2009). Indeed, more and more “modern social institutions spend considerable time and effort measuring what seems unmeasurable and valuing what seems beyond valuation in the service of enhancing their own capacities for calculation, crafting new opportunities for profit, or expanding their jurisdictional authority” (Fourcade, 2011: 1723). Recently, scholars have taken note of this and have expressed a need to synthesize and renew this body of work in an effort to theorize more systematically about how people attribute and asses value in everyday life (Lamont, 2012; Vatin, 2013).
Although interest in these phenomena is increasing, the related topic of organizational valuation and evaluation has yet to be the subject of an explicit sociological research agenda (Bidet & Vatin, 2009; Karpik, 2010; Lamont, 2012). This explains why “[w]e need to open a new chapter of thought at the crossroads of sociology, economics, and management: to think about value and valuation in the activity of work itself” (Vatin 2013: 46). A number of possible lines of inquiry can be pursued in this light.