Material Markets: How Economic Agents are Constructed

Hardcover | June 12, 2008

byDonald Mackenzie

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Financial markets, processes, and instruments are often difficult to fathom; and recent turbulence suggests they may be out of control in some respects. Donald Mackenzie is one of the most perceptive analysts of the workings of the financial world. In this book, MacKenzie argues that economicagents and markets need to be analyzed in their full materiality: their physicality, their corporeality, their technicality. Markets are populated not by disembodied, abstract agents, but by embodied human beings and technical systems. Concepts and systematic ways of thinking that simplify marketprocesses and make them mentally tractable are essential to how markets function.In putting forward this material sociology of markets, the book synthesizes and contributes to the new field of social studies of finance: the application to financial markets not just of economics but of wider social-science disciplines, in particular science and technology studies. The topicscovered include hedge funds (the book contains the first social-science study of a hedge fund based on direct observation); the development of financial derivatives exchanges (non-existent in 1970, but now trading products equivalent to $13,000 for every human being on earth); arbitrage; howcorporate profit figures are constructed; and the crucial new markets in carbon emissions.The book will appeal to research students and academics across the social sciences, and the general reader will enjoy the book's explanations and analyses of some of the most important phenomena of today's turbulent markets.

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Financial markets, processes, and instruments are often difficult to fathom; and recent turbulence suggests they may be out of control in some respects. Donald Mackenzie is one of the most perceptive analysts of the workings of the financial world. In this book, MacKenzie argues that economicagents and markets need to be analyzed in th...

Donald MacKenzie is Professor of Sociology (Personal Chair) at the University of Edinburgh. He was winner of the 2005 John Desmond Bernal Prize, awarded jointly by the Society for Social Studies of Science and the Institute for Scientific Information, for career contributions to the field of science studies. His books include Inventin...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.1 inPublished:June 12, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199278156

ISBN - 13:9780199278152

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Ten Precepts for the Social Studies of Finance3. Assembling an Economic Actor4. Derivatives: The Production of Virtuality5. The Material Sociology of Arbitrage6. Measuring Profit7. Constructing Emissions Markets8. Conclusion: Opening the Black Boxes of Finance