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Volume 24, Issue 2 (2018)


Mimetic Quality: Consumer Quality Conventions and Strategic Mimicry in Food Distribution                             253–273

Authors: Filippo Barbera, Joselle Dagnes and Roberto Di Monaco
Affiliation: Department of Cultures, Politics and Society, University of Torino, Torino, Italy

Abstract            PDF

Quality is a key dimension of markets and competition in advanced capitalist societies. While political economy recognizes the role quality plays for consumers’ purchasing strategies, it is less attentive to quality as a contested field where symbolic struggles and strategic manoeuvring take place. We argue that the quality-based strategies of hybrid organizations in food distribution represent a combination of different worlds of quality and judgment devices. This combination defines a camouflage strategy through which conventional food distribution chains such as high-end supermarkets conquer specific zones of the quality space. We thus maintain that the quality strategies of these organizations are explicitly boundary-spanning. To be successful, hybrid organizations need to cover both new and traditional quality conventions, overcoming divisions among different worlds while maintaining a coherent profile. This effort requires a strategy that is able to leverage situation-specific cultural meanings quite independently from individual-level attributes.

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International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Published by Michigan State University

Official publication of the Research Committee on Sociology of Agriculture and Food (RC-40)
of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

Editors: Raymond Jussaume, Claire Marris and Katerina Psarikidou

Frequency: 3 issues per year 
ISSN: 0798-1759

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