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KSOD 2390 - Sociology of financial markets

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

Financial markets have become a central institution of market societies but remain obscure. Courses on finance and financial markets are generally devoted to technical dimensions such as option pricing, asset allocation or valuation of assets. The ambition of the Sociology of Financial Markets class is to consider financial markets also as a human institution, with its history, its hierarchies, its various forms of rationality, its set of norms and beliefs, its social networks, its cognitive categories or its labor market. Analyzing the concrete day to day functioning of the financial markets is crucial not only for understanding this specific institution but also for understanding the logics that are diffusing beyond. Hence, financial markets are at the forefront of new forms of capitalism and constitute therefore an excellent observatory of their development. The course will build bridges between concrete examples of financial markets, recent advances in the emerging field of sociology of financial markets and classical studies in economic sociology. The course will be of great value for all students interested or attracted by financial markets, either as a possible option for a professional career, as a matter of political concern, or as an exciting topic of scientific study. The class will be taught in English. Lecture 1. Introduction and organization of the seminar Lecture 2. Historical approaches of financial markets Lecture 3. Financialization Lecture 4. The performativity of financial theories Lecture 5. Working on the market: daily practices and informal hierachies Lecture 6. Financial rationalities Lecture 7. Social networks, prices and profits Lecture 8. Financial categories Lecture 9. Financial labor market Lecture 10. Finance and the transformations of firms Lecture 11. Financial crisis Lecture 12. Regulation: financial lobbies and the state


GODECHOT, Olivier (Chargé de recherche - CNRS)

Pedagogical format

Each lesson will be divided in two parts. During the first 75 minutes, the professor will do a lecture. During the last 45 minutes, one or two students will do an oral presentation of a paper that will be followed by an interactive discussion with the students and the professor.

Course validation

Students will also 4) write an essay (in English or in French) of approximately 2 to 3000 words where they will analyze sociologically some material related to finance and put to the test some sociological approach studied during the class. This material can be books written by finance people or journalists, interviews, press coverage methodically collected, videos, statistics, etc. Validation will be based on several elements: a 3 000 words essay (50%), a twenty minutes oral presentation of a scientific paper (20%), a one page report of a scientific article and two written questions raised while reading a scientific article (10%), assiduity and class participation (20%).


Students are invited to read one paper each week and to work more specifically on three papers: they will 1) prepare an oral presentation (in English) of one paper, 2) write a one page report of another paper (in English or in French) of another and 3) write down two short “killer” questions for the author of a discussed article (in English). All students are expected to participate in the debate following the presentation of an article by students.

Required reading

  • BAKER Wayne, 1984, “The Social Structure of a National Securities Market”, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 89, n°4, p. 775-811
  • Dobbin, Frank and Jiwook Jung. 2016. “Agency Theory as Prophecy: How Boards, Analysts, and Fund Managers Perform Their Roles”, Seattle University Law Review 39: 291–320.
  • Godechot, Olivier. 2016. “Financialization is Marketization ! A Study on the Respective Impact of Various Dimensions of Financialization on the Increase in Global Inequality”, Sociological Science 3: 495-519.
  • MacKenzie, Donald and Yuval Millo. 2003. “Constructing a Market, Performing Theory: The Historical Sociology of a Financial Derivatives Exchange”, American Journal of Sociology 109 (1): 107‑45.
  • Zuckerman, Ezra W. 1999. « The Categorical Imperative: Securities Analysts and the Illegitimacy Discount », American Journal of Sociology 104 (5): 1398‑1438.