PUB: ‘How to become a judgment device: valuation practices and the role of auctions in the emerging Chinese art market’, Socio-Economic Review, 16 (3), 2018, pp. 459-477 by Svetlana Kharchenkova & Olav Velthuis

We are very happy to let you know about this publication by Svetlana Kharchenkova & Olav Velthuis!

This article studies the role of judgment devices in the emergence of markets for singularities. In particular, it seeks to understand how specific judgment devices become dominant in resolving uncertainty within these markets. Building on Karpik’s seminal theory, we argue that institutional environments (e.g. government regulations, political-economic factors, the level of informality within business environments) as well as the level of expertise of consumers, co-determine which devices come to be used in new markets. Empirically, we focus on the emerging market for contemporary art in China. While auctions and auction prices are widely used in valuing contemporary art in China, this is highly illegitimate in international art markets. We argue that auctions act as a judgment device in China because of strong government backing, because other validating organizations, such as museums and art critics, are seen as untrustworthy, and because auctions send strong, easily interpretable signals to novice collectors.

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PUB: ‘Local contexts as activation mechanisms of market development: contemporary art in emerging markets’ by Nataliya Komarova & Olav Velthuis

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The paper studies how local contexts contribute to the emergence of markets. In particular, it explains how potential entrepreneurs are motivated to become active in establishing new markets. Empirically, the focus is on contemporary art markets in two emerging countries: India and Russia. The paper draws upon qualitative interviews with 65 contemporary art dealers conducted in New Delhi, Mumbai, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. We show how different socio-cultural contexts function as activation mechanisms: in India, family backgrounds predominantly structure the decision-making processes, among others through the economic, social and cultural capital which these families provide. In Russia, by contrast, such family background is non-existent. Instead, the socio-economic turmoil of 1990s and 2000s as well as the strong involvement of the state function as activation mechanisms. We suggest that these different activation mechanisms contribute to explaining the diverging market performance in both countries.

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