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Services, Products, and Values: Perspectives of the Economics and Sociology of Conventions

Kota Kitagawa (2024)

In Rainer Diaz-Bone & Guillemette de Larquier (eds.), Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. Cham: Springer, Online first

Abstract. This chapter presents research on the application of economics and sociology of conventions (EC/SC) to service work, which has two advantages. First, by focusing on social interaction, EC/SC can examine the dynamics of conventions through the negotiation of meaning between the agents involved in services. The construction of conventions makes services possible and integrates various service work in different industrial classifications, heterogeneous service agents, products, and other things into a single service, increasingly observed in current trends toward a service economy and an “enrichment economy.” This chapter demonstrates that this advantage has been proven in various case studies of services such as tourism, restaurants, and care, overcoming the limitations of theoretical perspectives observed in service research in management and organization studies. EC/SC has a broad perspective on the plurality of values, capturing even non-computational values that are outside the orders of justification. Additionally, by focusing on services as a social interaction, EC/SC service research relativizes the “valuation power of the intermediary.” The second advantage is that it allows for an analysis of the social construction of agencies through the service process, which is useful in analyzing service work offering social reconstruction of beneficiaries as an aim of the service, such as in care, education, and consulting.

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