Concerned Markets

Concerned Markets

Economic Ordering for Multiple Values

Edited by Susi Geiger, Debbie Harrison, Hans Kjellberg and Alexandre Mallard

When political, social, technological and economic interests, values, and perspectives interact, market order and performance become contentious issues of debate. Such ‘hot’ situations are becoming increasingly common and make for rich sites of research. With expert empirical contributions investigating the organization of such ‘concerned’ markets, this book is positioned at the centre of the rapidly growing area of interdisciplinary market studies. Markets investigated include those for palm oil, primary health care and functional foods. The authors also examine markets and environmental concerns as well as better market design for those at the bottom of the pyramid.

Chapter 6: Credible qualifications: the case of functional foods

Frank Azimont and Luis Araujo

Subjects: business and management, marketing, organisation studies, economics and finance, institutional economics, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


This chapter addresses how the credibility of a new form of qualification is established. Our empirical setting is functional foods and its struggles to establish itself as a product category, halfway between foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals. Functional foods can be broadly defined as foods which claim a specified health benefit. Claims to health benefits invoke a different form of justification from those traditionally used in the food industry. For example, suggesting that chewing gum freshens breath is one thing but claiming it reduces tooth cavities is quite another. The standards required to establish health claims in functional foods bring this category closer to pharmaceuticals than food, where claims are justified on the basis of strict standards and closely regulated. Our starting point is the notion of credibility, how it is established and consolidated across multiple arenas, as well as how it relates to markets. In science, the seminal work of Latour and Woolgar (1979) and Knorr-Cetina (1982) describe how scientists establish cycles of credibility amongst their peers and funding agencies, converting different types of resources (for example data, publications or money) as they build, accumulate and capitalize on credibility. More recently, Lehenkari (2003) and Penders and Nelis (2011) investigate how credibility is established in the world of corporate science, where private firms invest in basic science as a way to create new products as well as establish the credibility of claims made by their products.

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