Tags, transaction types and communication in online anonymous markets


*Corresponding author for this work

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

11 Citations (Scopus)


The paper examines two interrelated puzzles: the empirical one concerns communication in electronic anonymous markets. If trading screens provide traders with all the needed informational resources (including data interpretation), why do said traders constantly engage in chatter and instant messaging? These latter should be seen as time consuming, as distracting, and as increasing uncertainties. The theoretical puzzle is provided by the need to conceptualize communication as more than a set of maintenance and support functions for networks of traders, and as different from a tool used in reducing uncertainties about the future. I argue that in order to be able to act, actors need to typify transactions, based on their observable features. Typification is a collaborative activity, consisting in identifying particular, observable elements of market transactions as marks or tags characteristic for a certain type. Tags enable market participants to judge transactions as instances of particular types, along multiple criteria. Four kinds of tags are identified here: personal, agential, actional and procedural. Based on them, market actors solve action- and decision-relevant problems. The communicative engagement in typifications is a mechanism of differentiation and group building in online markets. Its investigation helps shed light on the social dynamics of electronic trading.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermws011
Pages (from-to)31-56
Number of pages26
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number1
Early online date15 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Finance
  • Markets
  • Sociology
  • Technological change


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