Financial knowledge, documents, and the structures of financial activities


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Starting from participant observation and interviews conducted in several European banks, the article examines how financial knowledge is constituted in the process of producing documents like research reports, analyses, and newsletters. The core argument is that documents act as organizational devices, with the help of which relationships are created, maintained, and managed across various contexts. In this perspective, the production of financial reports, analyses, and newsletters creates (1) knowledge-based networks of social relationships in which financial action is embedded and (2) stable temporal structures, thus ensuring the continuity of financial activities. On these grounds, the author argues here that knowledge-generating processes should be taken into account as an essential dimension of the structural embeddedness of financial action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-239
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This article has greatly benefited from the comments of the anonymous reviewers, as well as from discussions with Karin Knorr Cetina, Herbert Kalthoff, and Frank Mars. My thanks to all of them. The interviews in Department C have been conducted together with Herbert Kalthoff. I am also indebted to the members of the bank departments discussed here; without their support and cooperation and interest in my project, this research would not have been possible. This article is dedicated to the memory of Frank Mars, who has conducted one of the first ethnographic studies of stock analysts.


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