General Sentiment: How Value and Affect Converge in the Information Economy
The Fordist economy was marked don what David Stark calls a Parsonian Compromise in which economic value and other values were clearly separated, in theory as well as in practice. Today this is changing. The rise of ethical consumerism, of Corporate Social Responsibility as well as that, more fundamentally, of the economic importance of intangible assets like brands, testify to a stronger role of values that derive form a wide range of diverse forms of affect in determining price formation. In this paper I will argue that this trend has two fundamental causes. First, the socialization of production has increased the importance of affective investments in things like brands, reputation, corporate culture and efficient teamwork as a sources of value. Second, a common criteria for the measurement of affective investments is forming, based on the new form of abstract or General Sentiment that is emerging as a new ‘general equivalent’ as a consequence of the present remediation of communicative relations, principally throughout the diffusion of social media. Together these two dimensions make up the foundations for a new value logic that is emerging within contemporary wealth creation. After briefly summarizing the first argument, this paper will concentrate on the second, describing the emergence of General Sentiment as a criterion of value.