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The Dynamics of Auction
Social Interaction and the Sale of Fine Art and Antiques


Award Winner

Part of Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives

  • Date Published: May 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521756426

£ 24.99

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About the Authors
  • Each year art and antiques worth many billions of pounds are sold at auction. These auctions consist of numerous, intense episodes of social interaction through which the price of goods rapidly escalates until sold on the strike of a hammer. In this book, Christian Heath examines the fine details of interaction that arises at auctions, the talk and visible conduct of the participants and their use of various tools and technologies. He explores how auctioneers, buyers and their representatives are able to transact the sale of diversely priced goods in just seconds. Heath addresses how order, trust and competition are established at auctions and demonstrates how an economic institution of some global importance is founded upon embodied action and interaction. The analysis is based on video recordings of sales of art and antiques gathered within a range of national and international auction houses in Europe and the United States.

    • Highly distinctive contribution to understanding talk and interaction in work and organisation
    • Unique analysis of embodied interaction and multimodal communication
    • Contributes to understanding of economic action and the operation of markets
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    • Winner, 2014 Best Book Award, International Society for Conversation Analysis

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… Christian Heath has written a wonderfully engaging and detailed account of how auctions are practically accomplished. The book provides a methodologically sophisticated investigation of a financially significant business activity. In so doing it offers an exemplary case study of social interaction in a workplace setting.' Tom Horlick-Jones, Symbolic Interaction

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521756426
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • contains: 133 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Auctions: institutional form and interactional organisation
    2. The orders of bidding
    3. Trust and the integrity of bids
    4. Establishing competition: creating an impression of demand
    5. Bidding and the pursuit of bids
    6. Remote presence and on-line participation
    7. On the strike of the hammer
    8. Embodied interaction and the order of markets
    Appendix I. Glossary of terms
    Appendix II. Transcription notation

  • Author

    Christian Heath, King's College London
    Christian Heath is Professor at the Work, Interaction and Technology Research Centre, Department of Management, King's College London.


    • Winner, 2014 Best Book Award, International Society for Conversation Analysis

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