Exemplary Goods: Exemplars as Judgment Devices

  • Erwin Dekker Erasmus School of History, Culture & Communication, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Keywords: Valuation, exemplars, economy of qualities, cultural economics, singular goods, classification


In this article the notion of exemplars is developed to study valuation processes. It argues that exemplary goods are an important ‘judgment device’ on markets of singular goods, which has so far been ignored in the literature. The article draws on Hannah Arendt’s theory of exemplars, as well as literature from the philosophy of science and psychology to construct the new concept. Exemplars are particular goods that become focal points in markets that facilitate the mutual coordination of consumers and producers. From these exemplars norms of quality emerge which are otherwise hard or impossible to explicate. These exemplars and the norms of quality which emerge from them help shape the expectations of both producers and consumers with regard to new goods that are introduced to the market. Two illustrative cases, on classic literature and hip-hop music, are presented to demonstrate the relevance of the concept.

How to Cite
Dekker, Erwin. 2016. “Exemplary Goods: Exemplars As Judgment Devices”. Valuation Studies 4 (2), 103-24. https://doi.org/10.3384/VS.2001-5992.1642103.