The Economy of Esteem: An Essay on Civil and Political Society

Geoffrey Brennan, Philip Pettit

Research output: Book/ReportBook

370 Scopus citations


However much people want esteem, it is an untradeable commodity: there is no way that I can buy the good opinion of another or sell to others my good opinion of them. But though it is a non-tradable good, esteem is allocated in society according to systematic determinants; people's performance, publicity and presentation relative to others will help fix how much esteem they enjoy and how much disesteem they avoid. The fact that it is subject to such determinants means in turn that rational individuals are bound to compete with one another, however tacitly, in the attempt to control those influences, increasing their chances of winning esteem and avoiding disesteem. And the fact that they all compete for esteem in this way shapes the environment in which they each pursue the good, setting relevant comparators and benchmarks, and determining the cost that a person must bear-the price that they must pay-for obtaining a given level of esteem in any domain of activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)0199246483, 9780199246489
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance


  • Civil society
  • Esteem
  • Fame
  • Incentives
  • Institutions
  • Political society
  • Regulation
  • Shame


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