Configuring Value Conflicts in Markets
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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.
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Chapter 8: Polarization and convergence of values at the intermediary position

Anette Nyqvist and Renita Thedvall


This chapter focuses on a particular kind of market actors: the intermediaries. The intermediary position has a particular character. It is one that connects, joins, helps, enables and serves as a channel between buyers and sellers, and between the local and global (Wolf 1956; Geertz 1960; Callon 1994; Spulber 1999; Popp 2000; James 2011). Intermediaries are nodes that disseminate knowledge, work as gatekeepers and enable participation (Wolf 1956; Geertz 1960; Popp 2000). In the marketplace, as we will demonstrate in this chapter, intermediaries are able to reconfigure values of both their own markets and markets in general. Our two cases, the Fairtrade International (FLO) and the Swedish pension fund company KPA are used to illustrate how economic, social and environmental values are arranged and rearranged by intermediaries in value configuration processes. FLO and KPA continuously and strategically use value configurations with the express object to both make money and change the world. We shed light on their organizational efforts to promote the idea that not only economic values, but also social and environmental values should be part of market transactions. We use here the term polarization to describe the widespread idea of a division between the economic, the social and the environmental (WCED 1987). We argue that FLO and KPA make use of and reproduce notions of polarization between these values and make this their particular business idea.

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