ISSN : 2266-6060


Prices are quite strange things. In the mind of some people, they are supposed to crystallize the result of an encounter: the one of supply and demand (strange things too, but this is another story). The fact that prices are displayed nowadays in supermarkets and all kind of shops seems natural. But when this practice progressively appeared it dramatically changed the face of economic exchanges. Display means fixity and publicity. The same price for everyone. Most of all, it informs consumers who can, in return, chose commodities as rational actors. Displayed prices are one of the most powerful tool in the performation of the homo œconomicus, the very same some sociologists keep telling you he does not exist.
But if most prices are made to be seen before you choose, before you buy, the mode of existence of some others is less obvious. This big, for instance, figure that announces to every passers-by how much money this building renovation actually costs is very interesting. It displays some kind of justification. We put a lot of money for this place to be better. And as it is a public building, mostly, this money was yours. “We” is “us”.
Thus, this kind of huge price display is less comparable to the ones that populate shopping shelves than to the ones that fill account books. All we need now is to find the other pages, and we can do the maths.