Market and Value: Practices of Real Estate Valuation from the 18th to the 21st Century

Workshop within the Collaborative Research Project 1288 “Practices of Comparison”, Subproject B07 (“Comparisons in Markets: Practices of Property Valuation in Great Britain and the German Territories, 1750-1950”) Organisers: Peter Kramper, Anna Grotegut, Stephan Fasold
19.09.2019 - 20.09.2019
Peter Kramper

Real estate is of central social and economic importance. The fact that it is financed and traded through markets has enormous consequences, as witnessed by the financial crisis of 2007/08. The "marketization" of real estate is, however, a comparatively young phenomenon. In broad parts of Europe, it can only be observed since the 18th century. While the emergence of markets for land, residential and commercial buildings is generally well understood with regard to the political framework (e.g., the dismantling of feudal ties), their specific function as markets has rarely been examined from a historical perspective.

At the same time, recent research from economic sociology has shown that market transactions are generally subject to considerable obstacles and hence require the development of routines and practices to overcome them. An important problem for heterogeneous goods such as real estate is, for example, the process of valuation. Without an agreement on economic value (which is tied to cultural conditions), neither market exchange nor state intervention, such as land taxation, are conceivable.

The paradigm of "practices of comparison" established by the Bielefeld Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1288 offers a fruitful perspective on this problem (for more on this, see: The SFB subproject that organises the workshop rests on the assumption that the economic valuation of real estate was and is directly linked to explicit practices of comparison. In concentrates on German and British examples and asks the following questions: To what extent was the transformation of property valuation between the 18th and 20th centuries due to changes in comparative practices? Who were the main actors driving these changes? And what were the implications of changes in comparisons and valuations for the functionality of prices and markets?

The workshop will provide an opportunity to discuss these issues and to place them in the broader context of a praxeological history of real estate markets since the 18th century. The central questions for the workshop are these: Which actors, which practices and what kinds of knowledge were central to the functioning of real estate markets (and their links to upstream or downstream sectors, such as finance or construction); how did the combination of these factors change between the 18th and 20th century? And what was the political, economic, social and cultural framework for these changes?

In addition to contributions on valuation and pricing, reflections concerning professional organisations, institutions, companies, financing mechanisms, government interventions and similar topics are welcome. Macroeconomic or structural-historical approaches may also be considered, if they can serve as a general background for the priority theme. Geographically, the workshop concentrates on Europe and North America. It is, however, open for relevant contributions from other regions of the world.

Please send your proposals to by 31 May 2019, including an abstract of your paper (up to 500 words) and a short CV (up to 300 words). Applicants will be informed by 15 June 2019 if their presentations will be included in the program. Travel costs will be covered.


Market and Value: Practices of Real Estate Valuation from the 18th to the 21st Century, 19.09.2019 – 20.09.2019 Bielefeld, in: H-Soz-Kult, 14.04.2019, <>.