Doing Their Job
Doing Their Job
The Functions of Intermediaries
This chapter systematically explicates how intermediaries construct the value of cultural goods to better understand the entrepreneurial implications of their functions. Three key properties of cultural goods—high symbolism, proliferation, and subjectivity—juxtaposed against three key valuation elements—categories, criteria, and standards—define the specific functions that intermediaries perform. Intermediaries make cultural goods visible through introduction, the sharing of information. They also instruct consumers, that is, they decode the symbolic meaning and value of the good. Finally, intermediaries perform the inclusion function, selectively validating the quality of certain cultural goods. These functions, although neither sharply demarcated nor linearly executed, result in a value pyramid, where goods at the highest apex of quality fetch either very high aggregate sales or individual prices. Operating as an entrepreneurial intermediary—pioneering or otherwise—that performs one or more of these functions brings different sets of challenges and has different implications for effective market creation.
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