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Nadine Arnold and Birthe Soppe

The study by Nadine Arnold and Birthe Soppe aims at thoroughly understanding the creation and institutionalization of what are called ‘moral markets’. Arnold and Soppe examine the development of mundane commodities into morally value-laden products, which are culturally supported and demanded in the domain of mass markets. By analyzing a rich set of archival data on the history of fair trade in Switzerland over three decades, they trace the early beginnings, development, and mainstreaming of products that are imported from developing countries and sold at a price premium to guarantee the producers a decent remuneration. In their analysis, they show that the institutionalization of fair trade is the outcome of a valuation process, which is characterized by changes in product-level valuation practices and also by an increase in the blending of moral and economic values. Their contribution provides important implications with regard to the role of values and valuation in institutionalization processes.