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Price and the person: markets, discrimination and personhood

  • Moor, Liz
  • Lury, Celia
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
Goldsmiths Research Online
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The paper explores how pricing has historically been involved in the making up of persons (Hacking 1986; Carrier 1994), and how the ability to ‘personalize’ price is reconfiguring the ability of markets to discriminate persons. We discuss a variety of contemporary pricing practices, and three types of personhood they produce: generic, protected, and transcontextual. While some contemporary developments in pricing draw on understandings of the person that are quite familiar, others are novel and likely to be contested. We argue that many newer pricing techniques make it harder for consumers to identify themselves as part of a recognized group. We conclude that contemporary price personalization should be understood in terms of the intensification of individualization in combination with dividualization (Strathern 1988), and as such, contributes to what Fourcade and Healy (2013) describe as ‘classification situations that shape life-chances’.

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