olivier godechot

Sociology of financial markets

Financial markets have become a central institution of market societies but remain obscure. Courses on finance and financial markets are generally devoted to technical dimensions such as option pricing, asset allocation or valuation of assets. The ambition of the Sociology of financial markets class is to consider financial markets also as a human institution, with its history, its hierarchies, its various forms of rationality, its set of norms and beliefs, its social networks, its cognitive categories or its labor market. Analyzing the concrete day to day functioning of the financial markets is crucial not only for understanding this specific institution but also for understanding the logics that are diffusing beyond. Hence, financial markets are at the forefront of new forms of capitalism and constitute therefore an excellent observatory of their development.

The course will build bridges between concrete examples of financial markets, recent advances in the emerging field of sociology of financial markets and classical studies in economic sociology.

The course will be of great value for all students interested or attracted by financial markets, either as a possible option for a professional career, as a matter of political concern, or as an exciting topic of scientific study.

Sciences Po, 27 rue Saint Guillaume, Room 13, Friday 14h45-16h45, from 8 September 2017 to 1 December 2017.

1. 8 September 2017. Introduction

Organization of the seminar

2. 15 September 2017. Historical approach of financial markets

Students’ presentation:

Hautcoeur, Pierre-Cyrille, and Angelo Riva. 2012. “The Paris financial market in the nineteenth century: complementarities and competition in microstructures.” The Economic History Review 65(4): 1326-1353.

Material for lecture:  

Carruthers, Bruce G. 1999. City of capital: Politics and markets in the English financial revolution. Princeton University Press.

3. 22 September 2017. Financialization

Students’ presentation:

Krippner, Greta R. 2017. “Democracy of Credit: Ownership and the Politics of Credit Access in Late Twentieth-Century America.” American Journal of Sociology 123(1): 1-47.

Material for lecture:  

Godechot, Olivier. 2016. “Financialization is marketization! A study on the respective impact of various dimensions of financialization on the increase in global inequality”, Sociological Science 3: 495-519.

In French: Godechot, Olivier. 2015. « Variétés de financiarisation et accroissement des inégalités », Revue Française de Socio-Economie 16: 51-72.


4. 29 September 2017. The performativity of financial theories

Students’ presentation:

MacKenzie, Donald. 2017. “A material political economy: Automated Trading Desk and price prediction in high-frequency trading.” Social Studies of Science 47(2): 172-194.

Material for lecture:  

MacKenzie, Donald and Yuval Millo. 2003. “Constructing a market, performing theory: the historical sociology of a financial derivatives exchange,” American journal of sociology 109 (1). 107-145.

In French: MacKenzie, Donald and Yuval Millo. 2003. « Construction d'un marché et performation théorique : sociologie historique d'une bourse de produits dérivés financiers », Réseaux, 21(122): p. 15-61.

5. 6 October 2017. Work and hierarchies in the market

Students’ presentation:

Sapienza, Paola, Luigi Zingales, and Dario Maestripieri. 2009. “Gender differences in financial risk aversion and career choices are affected by testosterone.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (36): 15268-15273.

Material for lecture:

Roth, Louise-Marie. 2006. Selling Women Short. Gender Inequality on Wall Street, Princeton University Press

6. 13 October 2017. Rationalities

Students’ presentation:

Lange, Ann-Christina. 2016. “Organizational ignorance: an ethnographic study of high-frequency trading.” Economy and Society 45(2): 230-250.

Material for lecture:

Godechot, Olivier. 2016. “Back in the Bazaar. Taking Pierre Bourdieu to a Trading Room”, Journal of Cultural Economy 9(4): 410-429.


7. 20 October 2017. Social networks, prices and profits

Students’ presentation:

Davis, Gerald F. 1991. “Agents without Principles? The Spread of the Poison Pill through the Intercorporate Network” Administrative Science Quarterly 36(4): 583-613.

Material for lecture:

Baker, Wayne. 1984. “The Social Structure of a National Securities Market”, American Journal of Sociology 89(4): 775-811.

In French: Baker, Wayne. 2005. “La structure sociale d’un marché à la criée”, Idees, n° 139, mars 2005, 56-69 & Idees, n° 140, juin 2005, 58-68.


8. 27 October 2017. Financial categories

Students’ presentation:

Quinn, Sarah. 2008. “The transformation of morals in markets: Death, benefits, and the exchange of life insurance policies.” American Journal of Sociology 114(3): 738-780.

Material for lecture:

Zuckerman, Ezra. 1999. “The categorical imperative: Securities analysts and the illegitimacy discount”, American Journal of Sociology 104(5): 1398-1438.


9. 10 November 2017. Finance labor market

Students’ presentation:

Khurana, Rakesh. 2002. “A Different Kind of Market” in: Searching for a Corporate Savior. The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs, Princeton University Press, p. 20-50.

Material for lecture:

Godechot, Olivier. 2008. “"Hold-up" in finance: the conditions of possibility for high bonuses in the financial industry”, Revue française de sociologie, 49 Supplement Annual English Edition: 95-123.

In French: Godechot, Olivier. 2006. « Hold-up en finance. Les conditions de possibilité des bonus élevés dans l'industrie financière », Revue française de sociologie, 47 (2): 341-371.


10. 17 November. Finance and transformations of firms

Students’ presentation:

Froud, Julie Colin Haslam, Sukhdev Johal, and Karel Williams. 2000. “Shareholder value and Financialization: consultancy promises, management moves,” Economy and Society 29(1), 80-110. DOI: 10.1080/030851400360578

Material for lecture:

Dobbin, Frank and Jiwook Jung. 2016. “Agency Theory as Prophecy: How Boards, Analysts, and Fund Managers Perform Their Roles”, Seattle University Law Review 39: 291–320.


11. 24 November 2017. When finance gets into crisis

Students’ presentation:

Fligstein, Neil, Orestes P. Hastings, and Adam Goldstein. 2017, “Keeping up with the Joneses: How Households Fared in the Era of High Income Inequality and the Housing Price Bubble, 1999–2007.” Socius 3: 1-15. DOI: 10.1177/2378023117722330.

Material for lecture:

MacKenzie, Donald. 2011. “The Credit Crisis as a Problem in the Sociology of Knowledge”, American Journal of Sociology 116(6): 1778-1841.


12. 1. December 2017.  Regulation: financial lobbies and the state

Students’ presentation:

Kalaitzake, Manolis. 2017. “The Political Power of Finance: The Institute of International Finance in the Greek Debt Crisis.” Politics & Society 45(3) 389-413, DOI: 0032329217707969.

Material for lecture:

Woll, Cornelia. 2014. The Power of Inaction. Bank Bailouts in Comparison, Duke University Press.

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