Seeing like a market

Marion Fourcade, Kieran Healy
What do markets see when they look at people? Information dragnets increasingly yield huge quantities of individual-level data, which is analyzed to sort and slot people into categories of taste, riskiness, or worth. Developed to better understand and improve customer experience, these tools deepen the reach of the market and define new strategies of profit-making. We present a new theoretical framework for understanding them. We argue that (1) modern organizations follow an institutional data
more » ... mperative to collect as much data as possible; (2) as a result of the analysis and use of this data individuals accrue ubercapital, a form of capital flowing from their positions as measured by various digital scoring and ranking methods; and, (3) the facticity of these scoring methods makes them organizational devices with powerful classifying effects. They offer firms new opportunities to structure and price offerings to consumers. For individuals, they create classification situations that identify shared life-chances in product and service markets. Finally, these new market lenses, and especially the self-quantification tools they rely upon, are also presented, and experienced, as a moralized system of opportunities and just deserts.
doi:10.17605/ fatcat:dyr6ruykxrgotepreht67wecsq