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 6: Harmony or hidden conflicts? Proactive self-regulation in the personal insurance market

Martin Gustavsson

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


The market for private personal insurance is a complicated and valueladen marketplace. The customer pays for the product in advance, to possibly need it in the future, something neither party really wants to happen: the buyer hopes to remain healthy, and the seller hopes to avoid paying out claims. The customer's situation is complicated by the difficulty of assessing both the terms of the legal clauses that accompany the product and the seller's future financial ability to absorb its commitments. The seller's situation is complicated by the difficulty of assessing the risk-the customer's state of health-to be insured (Grip 1992, p. 124; cf. Ericson et al. 2003, pp. 186-188). The personal insurance market has historically also been characterized by periodically recurring value conflicts. According to early critics of life insurance at the beginning of the 1800s, and children's insurance at the end of the 1800s, it was not even morally defensible to establish monetary agreements relating to life and death (Zelizer 1979; Grip 1992, p. 127) or to set a value on 'priceless' children (Zelizer 1994). Today, the issue has almost the reverse character: insuring your children is not negatively charged but can rather be interpreted as the opposite-a morally responsible action that all parents should have the right to do. In this chapter, I show that the values that have stood at the centre of the disputes in the Swedish market have changed over time (see Table 6.1 for a summary).

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