Between Supply and Demand: Intermediaries, Social Networks and the Construction of Quality in the Italian Wine Industry
The working of markets implies decisions based on incomplete and costly information; as a consequence, the mechanisms through which this information is produced and made available to actors are very important. Most prominent among such mechanisms is the role of intermediary actors that do not make production or consumption choices, but influence these choices by sorting products into categories. We focus on intermediary actors that express evaluations of products, as a mechanism that fosters the convergence of supply and demand in exchanges. Personal social networks that connect supply and demand perform this role when exchanges are bound to narrow contexts. Intermediaries replace these ties in mass markets; in such broader context social networks are found here to play an important role in the relationships between intermediary actors and the supply side of the market.
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