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On the “Value Paradox” in Art Economics

Cameron Weber

A chapter in Including a Symposium on the Historical Epistemology of Economics, 2017, vol. 35A, pp 149-175 from Emerald Publishing Ltd

Abstract: Abstract What are the value theories used by art economists which can help define the field as a unique research program? We categorize the research program in art economics in Lakatosian terms and find that art economists share a value system around art which is that art contains value beyond that of exchange. This difference introduces a “paradox” of value to be addressed (either implicitly or explicitly) by the art economist in practice, in that mainstream economics assumes value is realized through exchange only. We then survey the literature and find evidence to support this value paradox claim. We also find that the art economics research program does not adequately address the potentiality of the state using art as instrumental value and introduce political economy to factor in a self-interested state using art production as a means to reproduce and ideally expand state legitimacy and power in society. We then give two examples of art-statism in practice to illustrate the possibility of art’s instrumentality.

Keywords: Cultural economics; economic methodology; Lakatos; value theory; statism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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