In contemporary society it would seem self-evident that people allow the market to determine the values of products and services. For everything from a loaf of bread to a work of art to a simple haircut, value is expressed in monetary terms and seen as determined primarily by the 'objective' interplay between supply and demand. Yet this 'price-mechanism' is itself embedded in conventions and frames of reference which differed according to time, place and product type. Moreover, the dominance of the conventions of utility maximising and calculative homo economicus is a relatively new phenomenon, and one which directly correlates to the steady advent of capitalism in early modern Europe. This volume brings together scholars with expertise in a variety of related fields, including economic history, the history of consumption and material culture, art history, and the history of collecting, to explore changing concepts of value from the early modern period to the nineteenth century and present a new view on the advent of modern economic practices. Jointly, they fundamentally challenge traditional historical narratives about the rise of our contemporary market economy and consumer society.
There are a lot of very interesting pieces of information and useful details to be found throughout the collection. Take, for example, the contributions by Jeggle and Lyna in part 1; (…) In part 2, both barbot and bettoni focus on different aspects of northern Italian economic history; of these two, the former's article deserves notice for the comparative large amount of original research and the useful and well-thought-out arguments." - Stephan Sander-Faes, University of Zurich, Switzerland.