New Book by Dave Elder-Vass

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Inventing Value: The Social Construction of Monetary Worth

Value is central to the market sectors of the contemporary economy, yet the best-established theories of value fail to expose how it operates and how it is manipulated for profit. This book begins to reconstruct the theory of value. In one sense, it argues, value is a personal assessment of worth, but those assessments draw deeply on normative standards. The book examines those standards and how they are formed, transformed and supported by the construction of new social structures. The empirical evidence comes from contemporary financial examples: the mortgage-backed securities that caused the global crash of 2008, how venture capitalists secure outrageous valuations for so-called unicorn companies, and the rise of Bitcoin. The result is a theory that shows how value is invented by value entrepreneurs in pursuit of their interests and thus provides a new basis for criticising the role of value in the commodity economy and the finance sector.

Watch the author’s overview of the book on YouTube


‘Dave Elder-Vass has acquired a reputation as one of critical realism’s most ambitious thinkers. Inventing Value will surely enhance this reputation. In it he critiques and rejects theories of subjective and objective value as currently conceived and develops his own approach to ‘normative standards of value’. Conventions are important, significant belief is not merely individual and value is constructed and structured. Anyone with an interest in political economy, finance and economics will find something worth pondering in its pages.’ —Jamie Morgan, Leeds Beckett University

‘A cynic may know the price of everything and the value of nothing, but Dave Elder-Vass understands why so many things have both values and prices. Here he engages classical debates about the theory of value even as he analyzes contemporary examples of value creation and destruction in venture capital, bitcoin, and subprime securitizations. People intrigued by the mysteries of modern finance will find much of interest here.’ —Bruce G. Carruthers, Northwestern University

About the author

Dave Elder-Vass‘s experience as a government economist, a corporate IT manager, and a sociologist at Loughborough University gives him a unique insight into the contemporary economy. His previous books include Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy (2016) and The Reality of Social Construction (2012).