Using a case study of the Italian spirit grappa, we examine status recategorizationthe vertical extension and reclassification of an entire market category. Grappa was historically a low-status product, but in the 1970s one regional distiller took steps that led to a radical break from its traditional image, so that in just over a decade high-quality grappa became an exemplar of cul- tured Italian lifestyle and held a market position in the same class as cognac and whisky. We use this context to articulate theorization by allusion, which occurs through three mechanisms: category detachmentdistancing a social object from its existing category; category emulationpresenting that object so that it hints at the practices of a high-status category; and category sublimationshifting from local, field-specific references to broader, societal- level frames. This novel theorization is particularly appropriate for explaining change from low to high status because it avoids resistance to and contesta- tion of such change (by customers, media, and other sources) as a result of sta- tus imperatives, which may be especially strong in mature fields. Unlike prior studies that have examined the status of organizations within a category, ours foregrounds shifts in the status and social meaning of a market category itself.
Österreichische Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige (ÖFOS)
- 502052 Betriebswirtschaftslehre
- 506009 Organisationstheorie
- 502044 Unternehmensführung