The research colloquium is organized under the auspices of the Sapere Aude research project on ‘Crowd Dynamics in Financial Markets’.
For further information, please contact Professor Christian Borch (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit info.cbs.dk/crowds.
Venue: Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135, DK–2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
Bjørn Thomassen: ‘Enduring Crowds: The Ritual Molding of the Subject in the Prolonging of Political Protest’
Monday 19 December 2016, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
In this presentation I propose a novel concept that can supplement existing approaches to the study of crowds: ‘enduring crowds’. My starting point of discussion relates to the question of temporality, and the trivial yet crucial fact that in many locations, since the period that we still talk about as the ‘Arab spring’, the protesting crowds that occupied the public city squares stayed on for longer periods of time – weeks, months or even years. I argue that this forces us to rethink basic axioms of crowd theory. I will first discuss the question of temporality in classical approaches to crowds, and then ask what it means to rethink crowds as ‘enduring’, also by linking the discussion to a series of anthropological concepts that speak to this dimension, including Victor Turner’s notion of communitas.
Bjørn Thomassen is Associate Professor at the Department of Social Science and Business, Roskilde University. His research areas and interests include urban studies, cultural and political dimensions of globalization, nationalism, religion, identity and memory politics. He is generally interested in anthropological approaches to political and social change, including the study of political revolutions. Regions of specialization: Italy, Southern Europe, the Mediterranean area, Europe. Thomassen’s recent books include Breaking Boundaries: Varieties of Liminality (co-edited with H. Wydra and A. Horvath, Berghahn, 2015); Global Rome: Changing Faces of the Eternal City (Indiana University Press, 2014); and Liminality and the Modern: Living Through the In-Between (Ashgate, 2014).
Ekaterina Svetlova: 'Who is responsible for the “hybrid” crowd? High frequency trading and responsibility'
Monday 28 November 2016, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
In my presentation, I ask if HFT algorithms contribute to and can be made responsible for herding and systemic risks in financial markets. My analysis of official reports on two Mini-Crashes (May 6, 2010 and October 15, 2014) suggests that traditional concepts of responsibility are not applicable to automated markets. Usually, to assign responsibility, one must be able (1) to identify the moral agency that (2) foresees and intends the consequences of her actions and (3) is in control of these consequences. Based on the reports, I demonstrate that all three conditions are not fulfilled in case of HFT. Subsequently, I seek to develop a concept of responsibility that better fits to the modern “hybrid” markets where humans and machines co-act and share responsibility for systemic effects.
Ekaterina Svetlova is Associate Professor at the University of Leicester - School of Business. Previously, she was a researcher and a lecturer at the University of Constance (Constance, Germany), Zeppelin University (Friedrichshafen, Germany) and University of Basel (Basel, Switzerland). She also used to work as a portfolio manager and financial analyst at a big investment company in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, for six years. Ekaterina has published on themes such as economic sociology, social studies of finance and philosophy of science. Now, she is finishing two books: Chains of Finance: How Investment Management is Shaped (with Diane-Laure Arjaliès, Philip Grant, Iain Hardie, and Donald MacKenzie) with Oxford University Press and Financial Models and Society: Villains or Scapegoats? with Edward Elgar Publishing.
Patrik Aspers: 'How Many are Present? Numbers, Competition and Forms of Markets'
Monday 24 October 2016, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
How come that some markets are crowded with actors, whereas others have only few buyers and sellers? How come that markets are fashioned differently? Questions about numbers of market participants and how markets function call for a deeper understanding of the central institution of capitalism that markets are today. Though markets have been discussed in many disciplines, and with an intensification over the last decades, the notion of forms of markets is not discussed. This talk will clarify what markets are. The explanatory focus is on the different basic forms of markets. This approach enables us to gain new knowledge about markets, and it offers tools to be used for analyzing concrete markets.
Patrik Aspers is Professor (Chair) at the Department of Sociology, Uppsala University. His research focuses on economic sociology, especially markets, and sociological theory. Empirically he has worked on fashion. Aspers is the author of Orderly Fashion, A Sociology of Markets (Princeton UP, 2010), Markets (Polity Press, 2011), Markets in Fashion (Routledge, 2006), the editor with J. Beckert of The Worth of Goods (Oxford UP, 2011), and with N. Dodd Re-Imagining Ecnoomic Sociology (Oxford UP, 2015). He is finishing a major research project on valuation and evaluation (ERC Grant).
Eduardo Cintra Torres: ‘Durkheim’s Concealed Sociology of the Crowd and its Validity Today’
Monday 26 September 2016, 3–5 pm, Kilevej 14A, Room 4.74 [NB! Note that this talk is NOT taking place at Porcelænshaven 18A]
Research Colloquium on Crowd Dynamics and Financial Markets
This presentation puts forward an interpretation for the alleged absence of a broad reflection on the crowd phenomenon in Durkheim’s major works. Because he was not interested in crowds as a psychological or a holistic socio-political phenomenon, a debate on those grounds with Tarde, Le Bon and the Italian crowd theorists would not lead to a sociological consideration of crowds. Durkheim developed a crowd sociology in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life under the notions of ‘assemblies’ and ‘collective effervescence’. Following the intuition of Tarde, his intellectual opponent at the time, Durkheim came to consider crowds as important, if not essential for the life of society. I will look for reasons for this argumentative strategy in the political and social climate in the last quarter of the 19th century and the scientific debate around crowds in criminology and psychology, beginning with an analysis of the words used for purposeful gatherings in Durkheim, his collaborators in L’Année Sociologique and their contemporaries. After those excursions, I will look for the crowd in Durkheim’s main works. I conclude that in Les Formes Élémentaires for the first time crowds were extensively considered from a sociological perspective and that Durkheim not only gave them the status of a social structure but saw them as greatly important in the reproduction of societies. From a contemporary standpoint, I will argue that Durkheim’s theory is not only useful in a perspective of consensus, but it is also instrumental to conflict situations. Durkheim’s hints on the duration of crowd events in the collective memory and on the recreational and aesthetic aspects of rituals are also of interest to a contemporary reflection on crowds, due to their almost complete fusion with television and the media in general.
Eduardo Cintra Torres is Visiting Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Human Sciences, Catholic University, Lisbon, and ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon. He holds a PhD in Sociology. He has a simultaneous career as a journalist and TV and media critic, presently in Correio da Manhã, as well as an advertising critic in the daily Jornal de Negócios. His main academic interests are: Television studies, advertising analysis, and sociology (media sociology, sociology of literature, and social movements). Torres is the author 17 books, including: “Marques” (História dum Perseguido) de Afonso Lopes Vieira (Lisbon, INCM, 2016); Telenovela, Indústria & Cultura, Lda. [Telenovela, Industry & Culture, Inc.] (Lisbon, FFMS, 2015); From Multitude to Crowds: Collective Action and the Media, co-edited with Samuel Mateus (Frankfurt, Peter Lang, 2015); Multidão e Televisão: Representações Contemporâneas da Efervescência Colectiva [The Crowd and Television: Contemporary Representations of Collective Effervescence] (Lisbon, UCE, 2013); and Televisão e Serviço Público [Television and Public Service] (Lisbon, FFMS, 2011).
Stine Simonsen Puri: ‘Speculations on Escalating Odds at the Delhi Racecourse’
Monday 5 September, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
From the vantage point of the betting market of the Delhi racecourse, this presentation moves beyond a distinction between gambling and finance, and examines the connection between speculation and price volatility. The ethnographic focus is on instances of price (odds) escalations, where the valuation of racing horses changes dramatically within seconds. I suggest that, whereas price escalations may develop out of herding behavior (a recognized phenomenon in behavioral finance), it is the uncertainties located in the social, ethical and material context which affect individual strategies and animate price volatility. I follow the lead of Clifford Geertz’s work on the Balinese cockfight, by examining odds as the materialization of the deep play of betting on animals. At the Delhi racecourse, however, the odds do not refer back to a stable culture, but to powerful men’s assumed illicit control over the races, as well as the cell phones’ possibilities for limitless untraceable connections. In this context of radical uncertainty, an uncertainty of the terms for the uncertainties of the game, it is speculations on the invisible and unknowable, not on the horses, that make the odds run off the track.
Stine Simonsen Puri is a postdoctoral fellow at Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at Copenhagen University, where she is associated with Center for Comparative Cultural Studies and Modern India and South Asian Studies. She did her PhD in Humanities at Copenhagen University from where she also has a MA in Social and Cultural Anthropology. Her main research concerns speculation and gambling based on ethnographic fieldwork in India. She is currently part of a joint research project, Escalations: A Comparative Ethnographic Study of Accelerating Change in which she examines grain speculation in Rajasthan, India.
Dan Zahavi: 'Perspective Taking and Group Identification: Lessons from Phenomenology'
Wednesday 9 December 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
When surveying recent philosophical work on the nature and status of collective intentionality and we-intentions, it is striking how much effort is spent on analysing the structure of joint action and on establishing whether or not the intention to, say, go for a walk or paint a house together is reducible to some form of I-intentionality. Much less work has been devoted to an analysis of shared affects and emotions. This is regrettable, not only because emotional sharing in all likelihood is developmentally prior to and logically more basic than joint action, but also because it might constitute a way of being together with others, which we need to study if we wish to better understand the nature of the we. In the present contribution, my primary aim will be to offer an answer to the following question: does the
we-experience, the experience of being part of a we, presuppose, precede, preserve, or abolish the difference between self- and other-experience? In pursuing this task, I will take a closer look at emotional sharing and draw on resources that are too frequently ignored in current social ontology, namely insights found in classical phenomenology and in contemporary research on social cognition
Dan Zahavi is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen. In his systematic work, Zahavi has mainly been investigating the nature of selfhood, self-consciousness, intersubjectivity, and social cognition. He is currently working and publishing on issues related to we-intentionality and group-identification. He is author and editor of more than 20 volumes including Subjectivity and Selfhood (MIT Press 2005), The Phenomenological Mind together with S. Gallagher (Routledge 2008), and most recently Self and Other (OUP 2014). He is co-editor in chief of the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.“Perspective Taking and Group Identification: Lessons from Phenomenology”
Emilio Marti: 'Institutional Maintainance by Filling the Space of Critique: How Critics Stabilize Financial Regulation'
Monday 23 November, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
Existing research assumes that supporters of an institution engage in maintenance work, while critics engage in disruptive work. Yet, cases where institutions remain very stable despite virulent critics—such as financial regulation in the United States—suggest that some critiques may end up supporting the status quo. In this paper we use the justification theory of Boltanski and Thévenot to better understand the role of critics and critique in institutional maintenance. Specifically, based on newspaper articles and interviews, we analyze the justifications that critics use in the public discourse around a recent financial innovation (high-frequency trading). We find that inherent tensions in financial regulation create reoccurring financial crises and that during these crises, non-disruptive critique crowds out disruptive critique. Put differently, financial regulation gets maintained through reoccurring crises in which non-disruptive critique fills the space of critique.
Emilio Marti is currently a visiting scholar at Cass Business School (City University London) on a scholarship from the Swiss National Science Foundation. He received his PhD from the University of Zurich. His research interests include corporate social responsibility, financial innovations, financial regulation, performativity, and socially responsible investing. One of his papers is forthcoming in the Academy of Management Review.
Gareth Dale: 'The structuring of spontaneity in movements and markets'
Monday 26 October, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
This paper explores the notion of ‘spontaneity’ in theories of social movements and market society. For some, spontaneity is held in suspicion when the subject is collective self-activity within social movements while being celebrated when the subject is the self-organisation of market society. In the latter, it refers to activity that is autonomous at the individual scale and orderly (even harmonious) at the systemic. For others, the opposite applies: ‘spontaneous’ market behaviour is better understood as heteronomous at the individual scale and anarchic at the systemic. The paper explores this and related paradoxes through analysis of the rhetoric of spontaneity in modern social thought. Its stopovers include a seventeenth-century enthusiasm for ‘spontaneous emergence,’ an eighteenth-century disquiet with mechanistic and providential accounts of order, a German-Enlightenment discovery of ‘spontaneity’ and a Scottish-Enlightenment interest in the spontaneous generation of social order. It proceeds via a brief reference to Darwinian evolution to a consideration of Hayek’s ontology of cosmos and taxis and its mirror image: Karl Polanyi’s dichotomy of engineered (‘artificial’) market economy and spontaneous ‘counter-movement.’ From here, the analysis switches to social movement theory, with reflections upon the contrasting ways in which the rhetoric of spontaneity is utilised by thinkers such as Polanyi, Luxemburg and Canetti. The paper concludes by proposing solutions to the paradox with which it began.
Gareth Dale teaches politics at Brunel University. His publications include books on Karl Polanyi, the GDR and Eastern Europe, and international migration.
Brigitte Weingart: ‘(Don’t) Spread the Word: Rumours and Other Forms of Viral Communication’
Monday 14 September, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
Long before “going viral“ became an everyday expression in digital culture, both popular and scholarly concepts of rumours relied heavily on epidemic imagery: Rumours are ‘infectious’, they spread ‘like wildfire’, they ‘mutate’, they tend to be ‘ineradicable’ and become the object of ‘containment’, and even scientific research adopts epidemological models to simulate their behaviour. The presentation will take a closer look at the longstanding analogy of rumours and epidemics and its impact on historical conceptualisations of crowd dynamics. Against this background, we may discuss what to make of the fact that, under media conditions of ‘connectedness’, the spread of rumours turns out to have mutated from a pathology to a model case of communication.
Brigitte Weingart is professor in the Department for Media and Theater Studies at Cologne University. She is currently working on a book on the genealogy and media history of fascination. Former books include a study on Infectious Words: Representations of AIDS (Ansteckende Wörter, Suhrkamp 2002) as well as co-edited volumes on the trope of the virus, on appropriation and "original copies", the relationships between the visible and the speakable, and the communication of rumours.
Olivier Godechot: 'Financiers as Pirates: Collaborations Ties, Recruitment and Team Formation'
18 May, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
“Weak ties”, a valuable help for getting a job, are generally work ties. One reason for this feature is not that former colleagues increase one’s information but rather that they value the pursuit of past collaboration. We examine the consequence of collaboration ties hypothesis in the financial industry labor market. In finance, the labor market values the assets that financial operatives take with them from one firm to another, such as knowledge, knowhow and customers. Since assets are to a certain extent shared among co-workers, it is worth hiring business relations, former colleagues or moving in teams: it enables a better transfer of assets such as idiosyncratic working routines, distributed knowledge, or joint customers. To demonstrate our claims we rely on an online survey launched with eFinancialCareers.fr collected in 09/2008 among French financial employees. This questionnaire shows that working at the core of financial markets favors the accumulation of moveable key assets on the one hand and of collaboration ties on the other hand, ie that collaboration ties and moveable key assets are strongly correlated. The moving of key assets, collaboration ties and notably the combination of those two dimensions all increases wages. Although firms try to secure key workers holding such advantages through contractual devices, those strategies fail since many employees, in order to remain in contact with those attractors, facilitate rather than prevent such movement. Finally this paper suggests that the real firm is maybe not the formal firm itself but rather resides between firms in the networks of collaboration ties formed by employees who are mobile.
Olivier Godechot is Co-Director at the Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies, Paris. He is CNRS research fellow, affiliated with the Observatoire sociologique du changement, and holder of the AXA–Sciences Po Chair of Economic Sociology.
Liz McFall: 'Following the Crowd? Understanding the Surprisingly Contagious Appetite for Doorstep Finance Products in the UK 1850–1960'
4 May, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
Agents were part of a highly successful promotional mix in doorstep finance that also included advertising, sales promotion and publicity. In doorstep insurance companies all these promotional ‘parts’ were meant to work together in a constantly replayed sequence of dickering negotiations, feedback and recalibration. This process helped spread agents and their products everywhere, making their reach extend far further than material bodies could go. This disembodied reach works much like the reflection in the ‘fiery pool’ that Walter Benjamin saw as advertising’s killing edge: it was diffuse reflections that allowed advertising messages to leak out beyond the screen to awaken human imitation. Benjamin estimated the power of advertising rather higher than many companies did, but he was on to something in identifying the reflection; the repetition, variation and reiteration of the idea, as the thing that made buyers act. This was a facility that offices were desperate to harness and they used a variety of means to connect agents to advertising campaigns, to policyholders, to district and chief offices, and back again. No matter how well orchestrated marketing and market making was, markets are made only when these activities attract the ‘invisible cortege’ of associates and friends, customers and policyholders. As Gabriel Tarde knew when the doorstep finance industry was still in its infancy, market attachment is never achieved without sentimental relations, without extending lines of relationships. The market has to be got together, people have to be interested, even enthused, to start the bandwagon that ‘builds as people find it easier to love something others also love’ (Molotch, 2005: 87). This paper explores how doorstep finance companies developed sales strategies designed to tap into the ‘cortege’ of influence and imitation by lifting the gaze of agents from households to communities to see where new product attachments might be fostered. Sales training was designed to help agents track the mysterious path that market appetite might take. In doorstep finance, this appetite was doubly confounding because it was never really for the thing they were selling in and of itself, but for the means it provided to other ends, other things.
Liz McFall is Head of Sociology at the Open University, UK. Her work explores how people, states and markets interact in welfare and financial services provision and how this is being reconfigured through legislative changes like the Affordable Care Act alongside the technological convergence surrounding digital health. Her book Devising Consumption: cultural economies of insurance, credit and spending (2014) argues that states and markets were inevitable if uneasy allies in the promotion of public welfare and consumption. Liz is author of Advertising: a cultural economy (2004), co-editor of Conduct: sociology and social worlds (2008) and Joint Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Cultural Economy. Her article ‘A Good, Average Man: calculation and the limits of statistics in enrolling insurance customers’ won the 2011 Sociological Review prize. She is co-founder of the CHARISMA Consumer Market Studies research network.
Paul Crosthwaite: '"A Goddamn Theory of Everything": The Political Unconscious of the Efficient Market Hypothesis'
20 April, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
The efficient market hypothesis (EMH) is one of the defining ideas of our age. As Philip Mirowski shows in his recent Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste, the EMH retains an intellectual grip on much of the economics profession. At the same time, it has crucially informed not only the lax regulatory environment that gave banks the freedom to design ever-more risky financial products, but also the wider ethos of “the market knows best” that has infiltrated virtually every area of life under neoliberalism. And yet a succession of financial bubbles and crashes has made the EMH appear empirically untenable. Why, then, does it continue to enjoy such influence and valorisation? This paper aims to make a contribution to answering this question, beginning with Mirowski’s account of the ways in which the EMH has become too integral to both the theory and practice of financial markets to be abandoned, and venturing into more speculative territory. Specifically, I attempt, with the help of works of fiction by Don DeLillo and Hari Kunzru, and drawing on Fredric Jameson’s notion of the “political unconscious,” to show that the theory of market efficiency is a privileged expression of longings that pervade our moment: longings for a transcendent collective realm in which our actions would have meaning, significance, and permanence and for the world to prove mappable, coherent, and intelligible. A manifestation of belief in the “wisdom of crowds,” the EMH gives voice to a fantasy of collective existence that is veritably utopian in nature. This paper aims, then, is to read the EMH – alongside works of fiction and theory – for its cultural meanings and psychic investments.
Paul Crosthwaite is a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. His publications include Trauma, Postmodernism, and the Aftermath of World War II (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and, as editor, Criticism, Crisis, and Contemporary Narrative: Textual Horizons in an Age of Global Risk (Routledge, 2011). He is a curator of the exhibition “Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present” and an editor of the accompanying book from Manchester University Press. He is currently completing a book entitled Speculative Investments: Finance, Feeling, and Representation in Contemporary Literature and Culture.
Slides from Paul's talk can be downloaded here.
Alex Preda and Roland Gemayel: 'Do Social Media Produce Conformism? Herding Behaviour among Trade Leaders on Social Trading Platforms'
23 March, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
Do social media produce or at least encourage action conformism? While this question has been discussed to a certain extent with respect to conformism of opinions (participants follow the opinions of a leader), it has not yet been examined with respect to action conformism (leaders follow the actions of each other, as opposed to merely participants following a leader). In economic sociology, isomorphism has been largely examined at the level of firm structures, while within networks (opinion) brokers are widely seen as not being isomorphic. Opinion leaders as well as network brokers seek distinction and preserve their social and cultural capital by avoiding imitation. Social media have been widely seen in this respect as encouraging diversity of expression and opinion.
We argue that social media platforms encourage action conformism among action leaders. A possible explanatory mechanism in this case is the unparalleled level of public, ongoing scrutiny which acts as a mechanism of control. If leaders want to maintain their position under permanent scrutiny, they need to do what other leaders do—that is, imitate each other. Scrutiny acts as a structuration mechanism: because it encourages imitation among leaders, it makes leadership positions much more entrenched. Permanent, ongoing scrutiny also makes action conformism much more durable: imitation among leaders becomes pervasive and is reproduced over longer periods of time.
We underline this argument empirically with a study of over 77,000 trade leaders and over 2.6 million transactions from a social trading platform (STP). STPs are Facebook-like platforms dedicated exclusively to traders. STPs have two classes of traders: trade leaders and followers (aka copiers). Copiers automatically copy in real time the trade leaders, and the latter take either a fixed amount for each follower or 20% of the profits made by those who copy them. There is a strong monetary incentive to build a large following (as many copiers as possible) and to maintain a distinctive trading style from other trader leaders. As a signal of distinction, we would expect trade leaders not to copy other trade leaders.
We subject this proposition to test by examining herding among trade leaders. We apply a variety of metrics for herding such as Lakonishok et al (1992) and Frey et al (2012), in relationship to trading intensity, trade sizes, and leverage, in addition to quarterly, monthly and weekly subperiods. We find that there is persistent action conformism (imitation) among trade leaders, and that this conformism varies with account size and leverage. We find that trade leaders tend to imitate each other more for specific security classes which are less traded. This suggests that trade leaders do not possess more information than other traders. The level of action conformism is higher than that found under institutional constraints (i.e., for hedge fund managers), but also much higher than that of other (retail) traders who do not participate on STPs. We suggest that this is a particular effect of social media. Herding appears to be very persistent among trade leaders with almost constant levels over one year of observations. Distinction appears as less important than conformism for maintaining a leadership position; the latter structures trading populations into distinct categories (leaders and followers) with apparently little mobility between them. Being an action leader (aka a trade leader) does not necessarily entail a distinct style or having more information, but doing what other trade leaders do.
Alex Preda is professor in the Department of Management at King’s College London. His research concerns trading behaviour and communication in electronic finance. He is finishing a book on Noise: Living and Trading in Electronic Markets, contracted with the University of Chicago Press.
Roland Gemayel is a PhD student in the Department of Management at King’s College London. His dissertation topic concerns trading behaviour on social trading platforms.
Click below to download abstract and power point:
Stefan Jonsson: 'Crowds and Democracy: Understanding the Shaplessness of Collectives'
17 November, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
It is commonly held that the 1920s was the era of the crowd. While this is certainly true, it is usually not recognized that crowds were of differing kinds. The study of interwar ideas of ‘the masses’ has often been reduced to a study of fascism, just as fascism has often been explained as a crowd phenomenon. But to enter the cultural landscape of interwar Germany and Austria is to encounter competing representations of the people and the masses, and this indicates a lack of consensus concerning the right way to represent the social body. No single system of representation enjoys broad legitimacy. Hence the uncanny ambiguity of the Weimar masses. They are present in every pore of society but lack Gestalt. An understanding of this phenomenon cannot limit itself to the explicit theories of crowd behavior and mass society formulated in the period. Rather, it must mine the cultural and aesthetic sphere, in which the masses were addressed through the new ”mass media,” and new forms of art, cinema, architecture, literature, and theater. This talk will propose a concept of representation (first developed in my previous book A Brief History of the Masses) that relates aesthetic representations of society to political ones. Such a perspective will demonstrate that ‘the masses’ reveal the eternal problem of democracy, as pertinent today as it was in interwar Europe. Buried inside each idea of the mass is not necessarily a fascist, communist, or totalitarian kernel, but simply an idea on how to represent society, how to channel socially significant passions into adequate political, cultural, and aesthetic forms. Some final remarks will relate this history to current emergences of democratic mass movements and social unrest.
Stefan Jonsson is a writer and critic and professor of ethnic studies at the Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), Linköping University, Sweden. He has written extensively on European modernity and modernism, colonial history and postcolonial theory, racism, multiculturalism and globalization. Crowds and Democracy: The Idea and Image of the Masses from Revolution to Fascism is just published by Columbia University Press, following his A Brief History of the Masses: Three Revolutions (2008).
Peter Knight: 'Reading the Market: Finance and Crowds in American Literature and Culture'
3 November, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
The repeated financial panics in nineteenth-century America challenged traditional explanatory models of economic failure. In the later part of the century many commentators turned from a religious and often moralising understanding of economic misfortune, to new modes of explanation that focused not on the inscrutable workings of providence, but on rhythms and dynamics that seemed to be peculiar to the market itself. Increasing efforts were made in different disciplines to “read” the market, and to make it intelligible to a lay audience. In visual culture the “animal passions” of the herd became a familiar iconographic shorthand for the madness of crowds. Fiction, however, encountered a different problem. Traditionally the realist novel focused on the moral and psychological development of an individual character, even if that protagonist seemed to be increasingly at the whim of larger social and economic determining forces. But representing the crowd dynamics of financial panics pushed the novel as a representational technology to its breaking point. This paper will discuss a number of visual and literary explorations of finance in the two Gilded Ages around the turn of the twentieth and then the twenty-first century, from William Holbrook Beard’s The Bulls and Bears in the Market to Andreas Gursky’s Chicago Board of Trade II, and from Frank Norris’s The Pit to Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis.
Dr Peter Knight is a Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. He is the author of Conspiracy Culture (2001) and The Kennedy Assassination (2007), and is currently completing Reading the Market: Genres of Financial Capitalism in Gilded Age America (for Johns Hopkins UP). He was the director of the Culture of the Market Network, and is curator of the exhibition “Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present.”
Turo-Kimmo Lethonen: 'On the importance of financial markets being wrong'
27 October, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
In recent years, the efficient market hypotheses has been thoroughly discussed and criticized, both within and outside the realm of orthodox economics. Yet, instead of talking about efficiency, market actors often simply say that ‘the market is right’, or that it is ‘wrong’. Thus they make a slight but revealing displacement in the vocabulary with which they address the market action. The vocabulary of right/wrong is interesting not only because it so clearly resonates with a moral understanding of the functioning of the market, but also because there are so many ways in which the market can be wrong.
In this paper, the importance of the market being right or wrong is discussed through reviewing three case studies on financial markets. One of these, written by Beunza & Garud, studies the so-called fundamental analysis of stock markets. The second, by Zaloom, scrutinizes ethnographically the practices of day trading. Finally, the third empirical example is the study of the so-called technical analysis by Preda. Juxtaposing these three cases reveals the heterogeneity in the market agents’ understanding of the workings of the market; in fact, these agents do not share much else in common than the belief that the market will be ‘right’ in due time. But what is regarded as ‘due time’ can vary enormously; it can be a question of anything from milliseconds to many years. And of course, in order to make profits they all rely on the market not being right at a given point of time; they hope and think that they know what is right before others know it, and before the market ‘corrects itself’. This paper juxtaposes these three ways of working on the fuzzy areas where the being wrong/right is analyzed, negotiated and decided. Each of them is based on a rational understanding on how the financial market works but, importantly, these rational understandings do not seem compatible with each other.
By now it has become a common place to follow recent social studies of science on finance, especially the work by Callon and MacKenzie, and say that it is misleading to talk about ‘the’ market, as if it were just one thing. This paper joins this intellectual movement, but wants to pose the question concerning the criteria for deciding when we can speak of one market with multiple viewpoints on it, or multiple markets with ontologies of their own. Even if a specific market is thought of as a self-organizing entity, which transcends its participants and becomes an entity sui generis, it is impossible to conceive it so that the agents’ differing ways of action would be irrelevant for it. Or to put this the other way around: as the market actors’ ways of reasoning on a market being right/wrong vary fundamentally, it becomes worth asking whether there are, indeed, many financial markets, all functioning at the same time, and all being capable of being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in their own time scales. Thus the paper does not only articulate the plurality of forms of (rational) action through which the financial markets are established, but wants to pose the question concerning the more exact criteria concerning when we can say whether there is one financial market or many.
Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen is professor of sociology at the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Finland. His main research project examines life insurance, both its current and historical forms. He is especially interested in the question of how life and death can be made into commodities, through the practices of insurance. Of particular relevance is the relationship between the social welfare system and the markets, and the way in which the dynamics of this relationship can shape the conditions of existence for people.
Marieke de Goede: 'Speculative Values and Courtroom Contestations'
6 October, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
This paper examines the trial of former Goldman Sachs employee Fabrice Tourre who was held liable for securities fraud in 2013, and asks what it tells us about post-crisis understanding of politics and critique. What does it mean to hold Tourre individually liable amid the complex human-technological assemblage of derivatives trading? What does this trial tell us about the ways in the boundary between legitimate speculation and illegitimate fraud is drawn and performed in the post-crisis era? What is important is that Tourre’s is not a case of a rogue trader, but pivoted on the contractual assembly of a CDO contract as a representative of a particular class of instruments whose financial and social value is being questioned. I suggest that the trial can be understood as a prolonged practice of deliberation and doubt, that entails a profound clash with financial time. The legal judgement enacts a (temporary) pronunciation on derivative value, thus interrupting the continuous flow of circulation and contested valuation. The paper discusses three elements that were central to the Tourre trial. First, it shows the derivative as a social relation that assembled the ‘real’ and the ‘speculative’ in very specific ways and across localities. Second, it allows us to see how the value of the derivative was written not just through calculative instruments, but also through institutional practice and notions of reputation. Third, it I analyses how the derivative cut across present and future, and how, ultimately, the verdict underwrites the social value of the derivative as a mode of infinitely trading on uncertainty and liquidating the uncertain future.
Marieke de Goede is Professor of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam, where she directs the 'EU in a Global Order' MSc programme. She researches the politics of preemption across the domains of security and finance. She is author of Speculative Security: the Politics of Pursuing Terrorist Monies (Minnesota, 2012) and Virtue, Fortune and Faith: A Genealogy of Finance (Minnesota, 2005). De Goede is Associate Editor of Security Dialogue.
Paul Langley: 'Crowdfunding: A New Digital Economy of Money and Finance?'
8 September, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
This presentation will reflect upon a recent scoping study of crowdfunding in the United Kingdom, and critically question the tendency to demarcate this small but rapidly growing economy as a new digital horizon for finance. It will develop a number of established analytical themes from geographical and related social scientific research into money and finance in order to understand crowdfunding. The composition of the crowdfunding economy will be shown to be relatively discrete, but nonetheless to be largely comparable with the production of its other. Similar to ‘real’ economic and financial domains, the digital economy of crowdfunding features: (1) the mobilization of material technologies and calculative devices as crucial elements in a distributed and relational assemblage; (2) the homogenisation and differentiation of social relations in terms of money; (3) the summoning-up of specific subjectivities and passions in the embodied constitution of work and consumption; (4) the enrolment of concepts and metaphors from economics, most notably those arising from the incorporation complex adaptive systems theories into the discipline; and (5) the creation of a diverse range of debt relations which expand obligations and extend them into the future.
Paul Langley is Reader in Economic Geography at Durham University. Paul studied at Newcastle University where he received his doctorate in 1998, having previously completed BA (Hons) Politics and History and MA International Political Economy. Before joining the Department in 2011, Paul held the posts of Senior Lecturer in Politics at Northumbria University and Professor of International Relations at University of York. During 2010, he was also a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University. Paul presently convenes the Culture-Economy-Life (CEL) research cluster in the Department. Paul's research has contributed to the critical study of financial markets and financialization in human geography and across the social sciences. His work to date has developed through the publication of three single-authored monographs: World Financial Orders (Routledge, 2002, reprinted 2013), which addresses the historical rise and fall of leading financial centres as key spaces in the organization of wholesale financial markets; The Everyday Life of Global Finance (Oxford University Press, 2008), which explores the contemporary interrelationships between the wholesale markets and everyday forms of saving and borrowing in the USA and UK; andLiquidity Lost (Oxford University Press, 2014, in press), which offers an innovative analysis of how the recent global financial crisis was governed. Paul's research has received funding from the British Academy and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Vincent Lépinay: ‘Inventing the Noise Trader’
27 May, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
(NB! This talk has been moved from Monday 24 February to Tuesday 27 May)
The noise trader emerges in the economic literature in the mid-1980s and is quickly mobilized by various groups to redefine the nature and characteristics of financial markets. In this talk, we discuss how behavioral approaches have been used by policy makers to trace new categories of market participants.
Vincent Lépinay is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and at the Médialab, Sciences Po, Paris. He is the author of Codes of Finance: Engineering Derivatives in a Global Bank (Princeton University Press, 2011).
Lisa Blackman: ‘Haunted Data: Immaterial Bodies, Affect and Mediation and Feeling the Future’
28 April, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
This presentation will explore the concept of haunted data as a way of drawing attention to those controversies, which threaten or disrupt the primacy of cognition in assessments and anticipations of the workings of social and cultural processes, including financial markets. It has been firmly established that notions of contagion – associated with crowd thinking, for example – are pre-emptive, often in unpredictable ways of market trends. This might include the concept of herd mentalities, panic, hysteria and the importance of the mood of the market. This talk will examine some of the precursors of crowd psychology – whichh bear on these ideas – and their psychic precursors – including the idea that one can feel the future. The talk will consider what we might learn from how these ideas circulate, in reconfigured forms, in contemporary neuroscience and related media cultures. The focus will be on experimentation surrounding automaticity and the phenomenology of will, and what a critical assessment of these forms of experimentation might suggest about crowds and financial markets.
Lisa Blackman is a Professor in the Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. She works at the intersection of body studies and media and cultural theory. She is the editor of the journal Body & Society (Sage) and co-editor of Subjectivity (with Valerie Walkerdine, Palgrave). She has published four books: Immaterial Bodies: Affect, Embodiment, Mediation (2012, Sage/TCS); The Body: The Key Concepts (2008, Berg);Hearing Voices: Embodiment and Experience (2001, Free Association Books);Mass Hysteria: Critical Psychology and Media Studies (with Valerie Walkerdine, 2001, Palgrave). She teaches courses which span critical media psychology, affect studies, embodiment and body studies, and experimentation in the context of art/science. She is particularly interested in phenomena which have puzzled scientists, artists, literary writers and the popular imagination for centuries, including automaticity, voice hearing, suggestion and telepathy. She is currently working on a project on Haunted Data.
Marc Lenglet: ‘Between Things and Objects: Algorithms, Regulation and the Realization of Financial Materiality’
17 March, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
Since the ‘dematerialization’ of markets that occurred in the late 1990s, financial instruments and exchanges have been replaced by multiple inscriptions: either textual registrations of ownership in dedicated accounting books (in the case of financial instruments), or algorithmic transcriptions coded in dedicated IT devices allowing for the ‘meeting’ of buyers and sellers (in the case of marketplaces). This ontological shift relating to the very nature of markets and the transactions taking place thereof raises important issues with regard to the formation, the expression and the representation of financial materiality: indeed, if the virtualized activities (the negotiations) and their support (the places where they happen) are not mere simulacra, how do these access to their materiality? Drawing on ethnographic material gathered during a long-lasting participant-observation in a pan-European brokerage house, this paper discusses the nature of algorithms now playing a critical role in the making of contemporary finance: not only have they contributed to the shift from physical marketplaces to virtual market networks, but also are they now moving towards a new destination. Being used by intermediaries and market participants to dissect, describe, and duplicate the practices that used to be produced and activated by human traders, algorithms now stand at the core of financial transactions and create an area of their own, the status of which remains unclear. Thinking of algorithms as the expression of a series of co-constructed processes rather than given objects helps us in the understanding and reconstructing of financial facticity: enacting states of the market through the activation of patterns of actions, algorithms tend to reconfigure essential categories such as time (acting within milliseconds) and space (creating their own ‘state’ between IT servers). They therefore question our ability to get a grip on them, and to form a representation of the kind of reality they produce. As such, they challenge the very idea of their possible regulation.
Marc Lenglet is Lecturer in management at the European Business School Paris (Management, Strategy, Systems Department). With interests in phenomenology and anthropology, his research focuses on the compliance function and the dissemination of norms within financial practices and objects. Before joining the academia, he worked as an Equities Compliance Officer in a European brokerage house.
Luciana Parisi: ‘Automated Cognition and Capital’
3 March, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
The centrality of automated cognition in capitalism is most clearly evident in the increased rationalisation of industrial labour and the service sector, involving the computational monitoring and manipulation of data in real time. Software, protocols, databases and interfaces are the active components of this rationalisation through which cultural, social, and economic relations are capitalised (Galloway; Chun). In particular, the emerging economy of intellectual labour has been identified as the motor of cognitive capitalism (Negri), which directly profits from creativity and affective manipulations, exploiting thought processes to generate new opportunities for the market. This logic of modulating cognition is exemplified by the intrinsic affordances that software offers us: potentialities to socialise, learn, create, interact, and develop new cognitive capacities. Some have argued that the generation of networked cognitive capacities can also be seen as a new opportunity for the political liberation of the creative potentials of collective intelligence. However, in this talk I will discuss that automation importantly involves the emergence of algorithmic forms of abstraction, evaluation and prediction that must be understood in their capacity to create conceptual models that feed on the indeterminate nature of ideas. Whilst so far much scholarship has been concerned with the capacities of IT corporations, such as Google, to predict decision and financial behavior, it is rather crucial today to consider the algorithmic automation of reason as no longer being primarily co-constituted by its relation with human thought. Instead, one of the striking features of digital capital in this robot to robot phase transition is precisely the interaction between different algorithmic ‘species’ and competing computational models.
Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Studies and Director of the PhD Programme at the Centre for Cultural Studies. She teaches on the MA Interactive Media: Critical Theory and Practice at Goldsmiths University of London. Her research focuses on the intersection of continental philosophy, information science and technology. Amongst her publications there are two monographs, Abstract Sex. Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (Continuum Press, 2004) and Contagious Architecture. Computation, Aesthetic and Space (MIT Press, 2013).
Jakob Arnoldi: ‘Algorithmic Trading and a Normative Reconfiguration of Financial Trading’
17 February, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
In this presentation I discuss the use of algorithmic models in finance (algo trading). Algo trading is widespread, but also somewhat controversial, in modern financial markets. It is a form of automated trading technology which critics among other things claim can lead to market manipulation. Drawing on three cases, this article shows that manipulation more likely happens in the reverse way, meaning that human traders attempt to make algorithms ‘make mistakes’ by ‘misleading’ them. Thus, it is algorithmic models, not humans, which are the victims of manipulation. Such manipulation poses challenges for security exchanges. The article analyses these challenges and argues that we witness a new post-social form of human-technology interaction that is leading to a reconfiguration of the regulation of financial markets.
Jakob Arnoldi is Professor at Department of Business Administration, School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University. He has published several articles on financial markets and is also author of Alles Geld Verdampft (Suhrkamp, 2009) on the financial crisis.
José Ossandón: ‘“My Story has (no) Strings Attached”: Credit Cards, Market Devices and a Stone Guest’
3 February, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
Social ties are normally seen as either pre-existing or threatened by commercial transactions. This presentation explores the case of a social formation that parasites a market device. Drawing on information collected in two different sites, low income households and credit risk management departments, the presentation will describe how a particular market device, department store credit cards, performs simultaneously two very different forms of loans in Santiago Chile. On the one hand, cards are a central feature in the marketing strategy known as ‘sowing’ (Ossandón 2013), which consists of managing the credit limit associated with each card not only on the basis of external variables or collateral (such as income or property) but through careful surveillance of customers’ payment behaviour. On the other hand, cards are used in the extended practice of borrowing and loaning supermarket and department store credit limits, or ‘quotas’, between family, friend and other relations. To grasp this particular duality, the paper makes three main movements. First, Zelizer’s work on ‘circuits of commerce’ is used to complement the literature on ‘market devices’ in theorizing these emergent social formations. Second, armed with cork bulletin board, yarn, and pushpins of different sizes and colours, I rehearse a new way of visualising the intricate secondary relational circuit of the quota economy. And third, Serres’ notion of the parasite is mobilized to understand both credit respect to retail and the quota circuit respect to consumer credit.
José Ossandón is Assistant Professor in the Department of Organizations, Copenhagen Business School, Associate Researcher in Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales, Universidad Diego Portales Chile and received his PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London. His main areas of interest are the enactment of finance objects, how markets are organized, evaluated and tamed, and broad contemporary social theory. His PhD thesis focused on health insurance and he is currently studying the consumer credit industry.
Nicholas Gane, University of Warwick: ‘The Market as “Marvel”: Neoclassical Economics, Sociology and the Emergence of Neoliberalism’
16 December, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
This paper is concerned with the sociological foundations of neoliberalism – a marketled form of governance that seeks to inject principles of competition into the state and other social institutions. Most histories of neoliberalism see the emergence of this form of political-economic thought as a post-War development, but this paper will argue that neoliberal thought developed out of an earlier engagement with the sociology of thinkers such as Weber and Schutz. The writings of Friedrich Hayek from 1936 to 1947, in particular, were a turning point, for they broke with many of the basic principles of neoclassical economics and in so doing advanced a quite different understanding of the market to that found in Weber and in Austrian thinkers such as Mises. Hayek effectively developed an anti-social sociology through this period; one that remains influential postcrisis but which has largely escaped the attention of the discipline more generally. It will be argued that a critique of neoliberalism can proceed by formulating a response to Hayek, and that such a response should pay close attention to the epistemological (and not just political) dimensions of his work.
Nicholas Gane is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK. His publications include Max Weber and Postmodern Theory (2002); The Future of Social Theory (2004); New Media: Key Concepts (with David Beer, 2008); and Max Weber and Contemporary Capitalism (2012).
More about Nicholas Gane here.
Joe Deville, CSISP, Goldsmiths: ‘Intimate Experiments in the Everyday Spaces of Consumer Debt Default
25 November, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
’Consumer credit borrowing – using credit cards, store cards and personal loans – is a routine part of many of our lives. But what happens when these everyday forms of borrowing go ‘bad’, when people cannot, or will not, repay? More specifically, what happens in the encounters between, on one side, a borrower and, on the other, a collector? I argue that this space of intersection offers important pointers for both understanding the relational composition of debt, as well as for the study of economic life more widely. By examining both the experimental technologies deployed by creditors and the everyday experience of default, the paper argues that materially sensitive economic sociologies need to account more thoroughly for the intimate attachments between people and their financial products. The paper follows the deployment of forms of econometric to help collectors identify for particular attention what one industry consultant referred to as the ‘low hanging fruit’. These are defaulting debtors who have in the past shown signs of being the kind of people that are more likely to repay and/or the kind of people likely to repay more (than others in an otherwise similar situation). It also explores the ongoing reshaping of the everyday, lived spaces of default. Homes are shown to become reconfigured as space of ‘anxious anticipation’, where the collector hopes to focus calculative attention on them, not a competitor by ‘capturing’ a range of emergent, co-constituted affective affordances.
Joe Deville is a researcher based at the Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. He is currently writing a book looking at consumer credit default and collection, which follows the changing calculative landscapes through which heavily indebted and defaulting consumer credit borrowers move, as well as the increasingly sophisticated techniques being used to attempt to convince debtors to repay. He is also working on an ERC funded project with Dr. Michael Guggenheim, which examines the deployment of contemporary disaster preparedness expertise through exercises and forms of training.
More about Joe Deville here.
Martha Poon, London School of Economics and Political Science: ‘Standard and Poor: Trials and tribulations of the AAA rating’
11 November, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
Credit rating is an old American institution that has faced heavy criticism in recent years. The complaint is that these companies have failed to provide accurate assessments to investors because of a conflict of interest in their basic business model: the agencies are paid by the issuers of debt who need to get their securities graded. US lawmakers have made bold attempts to hold the agencies responsible for the oversized demands for structured finance instruments that led to the collapse of capital markets. But reining in these companies in is not as simple as it seems. In order to demonstrate the complexity of the rating process, this paper reviews the Congressional investigation into the rating industry. It will examine contradictory regulatory initiatives that have been put on the table, as well the pending fraud suit launched by the Department of Justice against S&P. What this mass of government documentation tells us is that it is impossible to remove ratings from the markets without also sacrificing market function. The technical question is why? Like a company that owns the telephone cables running under the ocean, or a firm that operates a trans-continental rail line, rating agencies coordinate movement even when they do not control the contents of the transmission. Ratings are the channel through which the markets communicate even when agencies refuse to guard the message. This means that public debate has mistakenly diagnosed a problem of knowledge (truth), when it should be discussing how to regulate the effects of common infrastructure (action).
Martha Poon is a research fellow at LSE’s Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation where she is working on a book manuscript entitled What Lenders See. Her research explores how Science and Technology Studies can contribute to a history of capital markets. Before moving to London, Martha spent time in residence at the Centre for the Sociology of Innovation (ENSMP, Paris), The Centre on Organizational Innovation (Columbia University) and the Institute for Public Knowledge (NYU). She is a graduate of the Science Studies Program at University of California San Diego.
Per H. Hansen, Copenhagen Business School: ‘Financial Institutions: From Master to Servant and Back Again'
30 September, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
’In his presentation Per H. Hansen will present an overview of 150 years of financial history. The emphasis will be on how finance came to dominate the economy during the two periods of globalization. Both times the result was a devastating financial crisis that ended in economic depression and austerity. The presentation is based on a narrative approach and focuses on comparing the bubbles and the resulting crisis during the interwar period and in the 2000s.
Per H. Hansen is Professor at the Center for Business History at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. He has done research on financial history with particular focus on financial crises and central banking. His dr.phil. dissertation På glidebanen til den bitre ende.Dansk bankvæsen i krise (1996) dealt with the Danish banking crisis in the interwar period. Per H. Hansen has written several books and articles on financial history and on the history of Danish modern furniture design. He is the current president of the US based organizationThe Business History Conference.
Read more about Per H. Hansen here (personal website) and here (CBS website)
Bjørn Schiermer, University of Copenhagen: 'Connect Your Mind to the Market, Not Your Eye to the Screen”: A Neo-Durkheimian Critique of Symmetrical Sociology’
16 September, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
This presentation seeks to demonstrate the explanative potential of Durkheim’s sociology of religion in economic matters. It criticises other theories for neglecting the importance of collective forces and objects in sociological explanation of economic phenomena. My presentation will be divided into three parts: First, I embark on a selective critique of the Marxist paradigm. I will try to demonstrate how the privative Marxist picture of the social conditions under capitalism impedes and distorts empirical analysis. Second, I seek to show how some of the deficits of the Marxist template may be mended by extrapolating on themes found in Durkheim’s late work. Third, I seek to demonstrate how the Marxist privative picture – with some of the same empirical flaws – remerges in some of the new ANT-inspired forms of economic sociology. Here, again, I will draw on Durkheim to counter and mend these insufficiencies. The reasons behind the rather enigmatic title of my proposal will thus become apparent towards the end of my presentation.
Bjørn Schiermer obtained a PhD in sociology from the Department of Sociology at University of Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2010, where he currently holds a position as Assistant Professor. Besides his interests in the sociology of culture, he has just embarked on a historical project centred on the influence of Immanuel Kant on the classical sociologists. Recent publications include: Fænomenologi: teorier og metoder (Copenhagen: Reitzels Forlag, 2013); ‘Ornament og fortrydelse’, Kritik 194(45), 2012; ‘Late Modern Hipsters: On new tendencies in popular culture’, Acta Sociologica (Forthcoming).
More about Bjørn Schiermer here
Anna Gibbs, University of Western Sydney: ‘Rhythm and Algorithm: Affect Contagion in the “24/7” of Cognitive Capitalism’
9 September, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135
Jonathan Crary identifies one of the key features of cognitive capitalism as the disruption of diurnal rhythms and their replacement with a seriality that mitigates any form of sociality, and argues that this is continuous with a shift from production to financialisation. Examining the relationship between the concept of rhythm, the idea of the refrain, the problem of attention and the orchestration of affect contagion, this paper explores the nature of rhythm in the age of the algorithm and speculates about the changing forms of subjectivity and sociality that accompany the shift (if it is one) from a society of discipline to one of control.
Anna Gibbs is Associate Professor in the Writing and Society Research Centre, School of Humanities and Communication Arts, at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. Focusing on affect theory, her work traverses the fields of textual, media and cultural studies, and takes creative as well as scholarly forms. Her current Australian Research Council funded project, ‘Creative Nation: Writers and Writing in the New Media Cultures’ (with Maria Angel, UWS and PI Joseph Tabbi, University of Illinois, Chicago), is establishing a database of Australian digital media writers and writing, and, through the CELL consortium, working to achieve interoperability between similar databases worldwide.
More about Anna Gibbs here
Last updated by: Tobias Brask 05/12/2016