Where do analysts come from? The case of financial chartism

Alex PREDA*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Financial analysts have received increased sociological attention in recent years, partly due to their prominence in global financial markets and partly because their market position and activities illustrate more general questions, related to forms of economic expertise, to the role of intermediary groups, and to the relationship between economic theories and market activities (eg, Swedberg, 2005; Bruce, 2002; Fogarty and Rogers, 2005; and also Beunza and Garud in this volume).1 In contrast, the status of the analysts themselves and, in particular, their status as experts, has received relatively little attention.

At least two independent sets of theoretical arguments are being made with respect to financial analysts. The first set, coming from economic sociology, states that information intermediaries confer legitimacy upon financial securities by classifying these according to categories accepted by market actors (eg, Zuckerman, 1999). The second, more general argument, initiated in the sociology of scientific knowledge, claims that economic theories are not mere representations, but tools of active intervention (eg, Barry and Slater, 2002; Callon, 1998, 2004; MacKenzie and Millo, 2003). While the first argument is a structural-functionalist one, the second argument emphasizes the agential role of economic technologies. A central aspect of this agential role is that economic technologies (which include not only theories and classifications but also trading software) allow market actors to project paths of future action and thus to process transaction-relevant uncertainties. Against this general background, Beunza and Garud, for instance, argue in this volume that financial analysts coordinate classifications, analogies and metrics which, taken together, make value calculable. This argument expands on Ezra Zuckerman's position according to which analysts classify securities, conferring legitimacy upon them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-64
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Review
Volume55
Issue number2 suppl.
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Initial versions of this chapter have been presented at the workshop ‘Perfomativities of Economics,’ Ecole des Mines de Paris, 2004, at the Annual Meetings of the American Sociological Association in Philadelphia, 2005, and of the Society for Social Studies of Science, Vancouver, 2006. The chapter has greatly benefited from the comments of Michel Callon, Donald MacKenzie, Fabian Muniesa, and Yuval Millo, as well as from conversations with Lucia Siu and Philip Roscoe.

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