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Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies: Professor Karin Knorr Cetina
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 5:30 PM - Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 5:30 PM (BST)
Oxford, United Kingdom
Professor Karin Knorr Cetina, George Wells Beadle Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago, will deliver the Annual Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies for 2012 on "Maverick Markets: the Virtual Societies of Financial Markets".
The Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies, jointly organised by Oxford University Press and the Saïd Business School, will be given over three consecutive days, Tuesday 22 to Thursday 24 May 2012. Registration is required only for the first lecture, to be given on Tuesday 22 May, which will be followed by a drinks reception.
MAVERICK MARKETS: THE VIRTUAL SOCIETIES OF FINANCIAL MARKETS
What is the question we always ask about financial markets? We want to know how to invest in them, to play them, to avoid losing money with them. We surely would like to understand them—in terms of what they are made for and good for—investment and speculation. With these lectures, I want to convince you that it is also interesting to ask another question: What is a financial market like internally? How does it function as a system of global interaction rather than as an investment opportunity? What is there beyond the contours of the market’s face on screen which it presents to participants? The foreign exchange markets I look at in my research are a global interiorised environment into which all relevant aspects of the external world have been absorbed. I propose that we take them as such and examine their embedded components. How structural forms fare when they are implemented on a global level—how they are even possible as global social forms—would seem to be of considerable theoretical and practical interest. The components these forms develop make markets work. They may also become blueprints for the design of other projects in an emerging global culture.
Lecture 1: Tuesday 22 May 2012
What is a Financial Market? Global Markets as Post-Traditional Social Forms
Markets are oddly untypical when we compare them with the firm as the standard organising form of modernity. In fact, we seem to envisage them largely as empty spaces. Standard assumptions for markets are that they are agglomerations of atomistic actors equipped with the attributes of preferences and information. This assemblage is not organised. Economic theory requires the social distance of participants and a lack of co-ordination to assure perfect competition in a well-functioning market. This lecture draws on the authors’ empirical research on the largest and most global financial market, the currency market, to show how such markets are a form of organisation outside the traditional formal organisation. It draws on the theory of partial organisation and on the literature on attention to define and illustrate several constitutive elements of such markets: e.g. membership, scopic media, a pick and place methodology, and attentional integration. I also discuss how and where markets “bind” to firms (e.g. investment banks) and financial market action as time transactions.
Lecture 2: Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Scopic Media: What they are and how they help organising markets and other domains.
Media are a constitutive feature of a globalised world for which they provide the hidden scaffolds. Since the 1990s, social and communication theory and research have addressed the ‘mediatic turn’ in contemporary society in terms of one particular concept, that of networks. Accordingly, what we experience locally and globally, on the level of individuals, firms and markets, is the rise of a network society (e.g. Castells). Yet the central organising mechanism of contemporary financial markets are not networks of firms or interfirm arrangements, but the “authority” of screens, their continual, contextually augmented, and algorithmically enhanced projection of the market to which participants become oriented and to which they react. In this lecture I draw attention to screen-based mechanisms of projection and communication that reach dispersed groups simultaneously, and display reality augmented by information and calculation capabilities. I also illustrate the use of scopic media in non-market areas.
Lecture 3: Thursday, 24 May 2012
The Market as an Object of Attachment
Drawing on authorship theory, agency concepts, discourse theory, the notion of scopic media developed earlier, and other theoretical ideas, I ask how the market can be seen as an object of attraction. What sort of ‘party’ is a market and how can we understand it to be independent of market participants? How do we have to imagine an engagement with the market works—if we mean more by this than that investors and speculators hold positions in the market and depend on it for profit? The lecture differentiates between various levels of the presentation of the market’s self—and between several pathways for involvement associated with these levels. Markets appear to be not only a type of object, but a type of agent—one that is synthetic, cultural, spectacular. Traders experience the market as the central ‘other’ of their world. I discuss the various agency-dimensions of the market—the action milieu it provides—as one of the main reasons for its spectacular and captivating character.
About the Speaker
Karin Knorr Cetina is George Wells Beadle Distinguished Service Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Chicago, and a (co-founding) member of the Institute for World Society Studies at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. She has published extensively in the area of science and technology studies and the area of finance and has received several prizes, including the Robert K Merton Professional Award and the Ludwik Fleck Prize for her book Epistemic Cultures and the Bernal Prize for Distinguished Contributions to the Field awarded by the Society for Social Studies of Science. She is currently working on a book on the social and cultural structures of global financial markets, co-editing the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Sociology of Finance (2012), and project leader of a comparative project on scopic media in five areas. Karin Knorr Cetina is a former member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford. She was President of the Society for Social Studies of Science and Chair of the Theory Section of the American Sociological Association.
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