By Russell Keat (auth.)
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Extra resources for Cultural Goods and the Limits of the Market
But it is often further supported by invoking some form of scepticism about value-judgements: claiming, in effect, that these are purely ‘subjective’, indeed themselves no more than the expression of (in this case necessarily) ‘mere’ preferences. Further, this lack of concern by economic theorists about the possible character and basis of consumer preferences is, as it were, shared by the market itself, according to their account. In a market system, consumers do not have to provide any rationale for their purchasing decisions, and their access to products is not dependent on any assessment by others of the preferences they expect such products to satisfy.
According to this, markets are the most efficient means of producing goods and services whose ‘value’ is determined by their satisfaction of people’s wishes or preferences: that is, they generate a greater total amount of individual want-satisfaction, from a given set of inputs, than any alternative economic system. 2 On the one hand, it focuses exclusively upon total amounts of want-satisfaction, without attending to their pattern of distribution between individuals and groups; and on the other, it ‘takes people’s wants as given’, in the sense that it rules out any judgements about the respective merits of some kinds of wishes or preferences as against others.
And relatedly, one might also distinguish two different kinds of criticism that may be directed at specific exercises of such authority. First, it may be claimed that the authority has been abused, in that the judgements made fail to accord with the practice’s own criteria as a result, for instance, of the intrusion of their authors’ particular social interests. Second, by contrast, it may be claimed that the authority in question is ill-founded, in that the criteria upon which these judgements are based are themselves defective in various ways.
Cultural Goods and the Limits of the Market by Russell Keat (auth.)