The Power and Problem of Quality. Considerations from the Perspective of Economic Sociology - Quality is one of the most relevant and, at the same time, ambiguous key-word of the contemporary socio-economic lexicon. The reference to quality discourses and technologies (such as those related to quality management, quality assurance, quality certification) ranges from market competition to organizational and managerial dynamics, from policy making to the new forms of governance. But, if quality constitutes itself as an eminent value for contemporary development, the treatment of the most diverse social domains (including, for example, administration, research, culture) in terms of quality is often assumed as the emblem of a disquieting trend towards control and rationalization. This contribution deals first with the analysis of the multiple meanings of the notion, paying particular attention to sociological studies and to the relationship between quality and the dimension of calculation. The attention focuses then on the role of the concept in the field of public policy and governance and, in particular, on quality as a sort of connecting device, which promotes processes of integration among different policy fields and networking phenomena involving public and private actors. The articles briefly hints, in the last part, at the root of the peculiar normativity of quality and at the enigmatic character of its current power.
Keywords: Quality, networking, economic sociology, public policy.