Configuring Value Conflicts in Markets

Configuring Value Conflicts in Markets

Edited by Susanna Alexius and Kristina Tamm Hallström

Based on fourteen empirical case studies, this far-reaching book explains why and how markets are organized, through examining the role of values and value work in markets.

Chapter 5: Value-neutralizing in verification markets: organizing for independence through accreditation

Kristina Tamm Hallström and Ingrid Gustafsson

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


Throughout the ongoing bargaining process, we [the Swedish Building Workers' Union] will promote the requirement of introducing occupational health and safety certification of all workplaces. . . . We demand occupational health and safety certification as an important part of the efforts to create a better working environment, something we all gain from and which saves lives. More consideration in the workplace is needed. (Dagens Nyheter, 7 November 2011, p. 6) The above citation is taken from a newspaper article in which two union representatives propose occupational health and safety certification as a formal requirement for construction companies, as an entry barrier to the Swedish construction market. The problem behind the proposed measures, according to the authors, is insufficient consideration by construction firms of safety and work environment values in their business activities. Although this statement seems local in context, it is illustrative of the current global trend of ensuring certain values, such as safety and the work environment, through the act of commercial verification. In this chapter, we examine these expanding markets for verification. As noted by Power (1997; see also Lindeberg 2007), during the past decades, there has been a reworking of inspection institutions, entailing a shift from inspection as a governmental function to a greater emphasis on systems of self-inspection, often by way of standards and certification routines (Bernstein and Cashore 2007; Bartley 2010, 2011).

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