Marion Fourcade. The type and the grade: On the institutional scaffolding of the judgment of taste

Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall


Marion Fourcade, Monday, March 18 in 402 Barrows Hall

The type and the grade: On the institutional scaffolding of the judgment of taste

We tend to evaluate objects and people around us in two main ways: as types (i.e., having a particular quality) or as grades (i.e., being more or less). In this presentation, I explore these two modes of judgment by diving into the world of wine. I contrast the history of wine classification in Napa Valley (United States) and Burgundy (France), to analyze the historical conditions under which imaginaries of type and imaginaries of grade developed, how these imaginaries were stabilized through specific institutions and instruments, how they shaped wine-making practices, and how they continue to inform subjective perceptions --in this case the "taste" of wine.

Marion Fourcade is Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 2000 and is an alumni of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. A comparative sociologist by training and taste, she has analyzed in her work national variations in neoliberal transitions, political mores, valuation cultures, and economic knowledge. This presentation is part of a broader research project investigating ontologies of classification and valuation in France and the United States. Other works in progress focus on the rise, consolidation and social consequences of new classificatory regimes powered by digital data and algorithms (with Kieran Healy); the microsociology of courtroom exchanges (with Roi Livne); stratification processes in the social sciences (with Etienne Ollion); the digital gift economy (with Daniel Kluttz); and the political economy of European sovereign debt (with Caleb Scoville). Professor Fourcade’s work has appeared in American Journal of SociologyAmerican Sociological ReviewTheory and SocietySocio-Economic ReviewAmerican Behavioral ScientistAnnual Review of Sociology, Journal of Economic Perspectives and other outlets. She is a recipient of the Lewis Coser award for theoretical agenda setting, the American Sociological Association's Distinguished Book Award and the Ludwik Fleck prize for outstanding book in the area of science and technology studies (Society for the Social Studies of Science). Website: