A political anthropology of finance: Studying the distribution of money in the financial industry as a political process
Ortiz, Horacio (2021), A political anthropology of finance: Studying the distribution of money in the financial industry as a political process, Anthropological Theory, 21, 1, p. 3-27. 10.1177/1463499620951374
TypeArticle accepté pour publication ou publié
Journal nameAnthropological Theory
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Abstract (EN)This article proposes an analytics to study the financial industry as a global political institution, based on its role in the production of global hierarchies, by the way it collects, produces and distributes money worldwide. I propose to do this by combining three analytic angles. First, I propose to situate the financial industry in a global space, where it contributes to produce multiple social hierarchies, which connect to the history of colonialism, the World Wars, the Cold War and its aftermath. These hierarchies cannot be subsumed under a single logic, but must be studied as intersecting and mutually constitutive. The second angle concerns the rules of monetary distribution applied by financial professionals, mobilizing, among others, the concepts of investor, market efficiency, risk and value, with their partly contradictory character and their technical, moral and political meanings. These rules are institutionalized in state regulation, labour and commercial contracts, giving the financial industry a certain institutional cohesion worldwide. The last analytic angle then concerns the way in which financial professionals make sense of their place in the global hierarchies they contribute to produce. They tend to use repertoires of meritocracy to connect their role in global monetary distribution to the social elites they tend to belong to, with conflicts that vary across the multiple forms of social identification present in the financial industry worldwide. Combining these three analytic angles allows for mobilizing fieldwork done in the offices of the financial industry to develop a critical account of its global political role.
Subjects / KeywordsFinance; global, hierarchy; institutions; money; power
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