Changes in the way capitalism organizes itself around life and social interactions in society, have brought the measurement of value into crisis. Value creation in contemporary capitalism cannot be captured in quantitative measures alone. By defining value as a socially recognized importance (Arvidsson), we aim to create a deeper understanding of the qualitative dimensions of the concept of value. Thus, we will try to explain how new approaches to understanding value in contemporary capitalism can be created through art as a specific perceptional sphere. By combining the concept with other non-economical elements – such as art – we are able to see how it manifests itself in different contexts. Thereby we aim at creating new concepts for capturing the complexity of social value creation. The analysis takes its point of depature highlighting important shifts in the understanding of the concept of value through the history of economic thought. Our reading of Aristotle’s concept of value in relation to polis and the political community, combined with Adam Smith’s labor theory of value, followed by Marx’s critique of capitalism’s alienation of the worker and the living labor, suggests that value in fact transcends quantitative measure. Furthermore, tendencies in the way we work produce and consume today imply that contemporary capitalism, and its modes of production, is undergoing a severe transformation. Thus, consumers and producers can no longer be distinguished explicitly from each other but seem to co-create; technological development erodes the boundaries of working life; commodities have become increasingly immaterial; and lastly, social communities have become the focal point of production. As a result, subjectivity is both the precondition and outcome of the capitalist modes of production, which emphasize that productivity flourish from social interactions. In light of these developments, the introduction of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology and his notion of the phenomenological body can help to elaborate on the ontological conditions for this form of capitalism. The phenomenological body allows us to understand how subjectivity and experience are created through our embeddedness in the world, and are already defined – as we become reflective beings – as something social. We stress that the understanding of value and value creation depends on this embeddedness. In addition to this, we look at how the qualitative dimension of value manifests itself in the experience of contemporary interactive artworks. This type of art depends on an interaction with the observer, who thereby affects the artwork as well as being affected in return. In art we experience experience, which facilitates a redistribution of the sensual (Rancière 2004). Combining art with Merleau-Ponty’s concept of perception, the interactive artworks open the event of perception to the dynamic unfolding of life. This allows us to recognize the form of social value creation as vitality affect (Massumi 2007). Since we can only affect and be affected in bodily encounters, the form of value creation as affect oscillates around the social. In these encounters we increase our cognitive and bodily powers to act, and thereby bring new potential to the situation. Thus, our understanding of the qualitative dimensions of social value creation falls within the intersection of vitalism, phenomenology and economics.
|Educations||MSc in Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||120|