Framing Finance: The Boundaries of Markets and Modern Capitalism

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Framing Finance examines the history of the market to figure out how we arrived at a point where investing is not only commonplace, but critical. As Alex Preda discovers through extensive research, the public was once much more skeptical. For investing to become accepted, a deep-seated prejudice against speculation had to be overcome, and Preda reveals that, over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, groups associated with stock exchanges in New York, London, and Paris managed to redefine finance as a scientific pursuit grounded in observational technology. But Preda also notes that as the financial data in which they trafficked became ever more difficult to understand, charismatic speculators emerged whose manipulations of the market undermined the benefits of widespread investment.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Economic History
"The sociological perspective offered by Preda provides economic historians interesting ways to frame their own research into the ongoing development of financial capitalism."
Technology and Culture
“Indispensable to any historian seeking to understand how financial markets came to occupy a central place in the modern economy.”
Jeffrey C. Alexander
“Preda succeeds in transforming financial capitalism into materially situated phenomenology. Framing Finance is subtle, substantial, sustained, and enlightening.”
Karen Knorr Cetina
Framing Finance looks at the history of finance from a completely new perspective, combining sociology, history, economics, and literary and cultural studies. Drawing on his original historical data, Preda proposes several innovative theoretical ideas and concepts that may well become household notions in writings on finance.”
William N. Goetzmann
“Alex Preda takes a strikingly original approach to understanding the role of finance in modern society. His book explores finance as conceptual technology—an important tool of thought. This technology has a fascinating history of development that takes place through a social and economic institutional fabric; with the full dynamics of innovation, imitation, and the inexorable flow of market data. Humans adapt to tools just as tools solve human problems, and financial technology demands profound realignment of processes of gathering, aggregating, and interpreting information from the marketplace. This book teaches us that culture and imagination of modern society is much more deeply influenced by finance—its markets and models—than anyone might have suspected.”
Caitlin Zaloom
“How did financial investors and dealers come to seem like scientists? Alex Preda’s important book shows us how technical devices transformed the ‘frauds’ and ‘fools’ of the eighteenth century into today’s mathematically armed speculators. By showing us how finance became a culturally legitimate pursuit, Framing Finance offers a new understanding of the origins of our current economic crisis.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226679327
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Preda is a reader in sociology at the University of Edinburgh, the author of AIDS, Rhetoric, and Medical Knowledge, and coeditor of The Sociology of Financial Markets.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Capitalism and the Boundaries of Finance 1

Chapter 1 The Boundaries of Finance in the Sociological Tradition 28

Chapter 2 Prestige, at Last: The Social Closure of the Stock Exchange 52

Chapter 3 Financial Knowledge and the Science of the Market 82

Chapter 4 Close Up: Price Data, Machines, and Organizational Boundaries 113

Chapter 5 From Afar: Charts and Their Analysts 144

Chapter 6 The Kaleidoscope of Finance: Speculation, Economic Life, and Society 172

Chapter 7 On the Dark Side of the Market 198

Chapter 8 Panic! 213

Conclusion: Back to the Future 235

Notes 253

References 281

Index 307

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