Social studies of finance

Social Studies Of Finance

Social studies of finance

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Social studies of finance is an interdisciplinary research area that combines perspectives from economic sociology, science and technology studies, international political economy, behavioral finance, cultural studies and/or economics in the study of financial markets. Work in social studies of finance emphasize the social and cultural dimension of financial activities, but focus also on technical and economic dimensions such as pricing and trading.


Financial markets have been an object for sociological inquiry since, at least, Max Weber’s Die Börse. The raise of quantitative financial theory in financial economics from the 1950s onwards has led to an academic specialization on financial markets rather focused on economic modeling, and poorly attentive to sociological aspects. In the 1980s, a number of economic sociologists developed empirical investigation on the social structure and cultural characteristics of financial markets, especially in the US. Such pioneering researcher included contributions from Wayne E. Baker, Mitchel Y. Abolafia and Charles W. Smith, and was based on methods such as ethnographic observation or social network analysis. In the 1990s, a number of researchers from the field of science and technology studies such as Karin Knorr-Cetina and Donald A. MacKenzie started also developing empirical research in this area, with close attention to the role of expert knowledge and technology in financial activities.

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