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The Handbook of Service Industries

Edited by John R. Bryson and Peter W. Daniels

Service activities are now acknowledged as key players in economic development, societal change and public policy worldwide. This exciting Handbook not only contributes to ongoing conceptual debates about the nature of service-led economies and societies; it also pushes back the frontiers of current critical thinking about the role of service activities in urban and regional development and the important research agendas that remain to be addressed.
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Chapter 2: The Nature of Services

Sven Illeris


Sven Illeris Introduction The questions to be discussed in this chapter concern the basic characteristics of services. First, is it useful to consider services as one of the main categories of all economic activities and products, a class on the highest level of classification? Here, it should be noted that the word ‘services’ has several meanings. Two are relevant in this book; however, this double use of the word has rarely caused confusion: ● ● services are a group of activities: trading, playing, driving and so on; and services are also the products or results of these activities: sales, concerts, journeys and so on. Second, how can services be defined? In scientific work, precise definitions of the concepts used should of course be aimed at. However, it is not easy to arrive at a satisfactory definition of services, and the search for it has consumed much time. Third, a broader discussion is engaged on the main characteristics of services as well as the implications of these characteristics for the ways in which services function in societies and the ways we can study them. In this connection, the borderline cases between services and other activities and products are scrutinised. One implication is the object of a special discussion, namely the question whether services create wealth. This question has played an important role in the history of economics, and an attempt is made to state how far it has been answered today. Fourth, since services arguably constitute the most...

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