Prize to SSFer Martha Poon: Analysis of subprime mortgage crisis

August 6, 2008

Link to the paper

From the prize’s text:

Hacker Mullins Award
ASA – Science, Knowledge and Technology Section

The Science, Knowledge, and Technology section of the ASA is pleased to
announce that the 2008 winner of the Sally Hacker – Nicholas Mullins Award for
best graduate student paper is Martha Poon’s paper, “From New Deal Institutions
to Capital Markets: Commercial Consumer Risk Scores and the Making of
Subprime Mortgage Finance.”

The paper is a detailed case study of the complex historical emergence of the new financial market commonly (and now infamously) known as the subprime
mortgage business. The analytic focus of the article is the design and
development of risk rating systems through the techniques and technologies
of calculability. The paper demonstrates, contrary to the claims of
market fundamentalists, that the subprime financial market did not emerge
naturally from the free play of market forces, but was crafted by a range
of heterogeneous actors and shaped by an array of institutional forces,
not least of which was the federal government (through Government
Sponsored Agencies like Freddie Mac). Apart from the breathtaking
analysis of the science of market construction, the committee noted the
timeliness of the piece, and how Poon could well contribute to public
sociology in the way Diane Vaughn did with respect to the shuttle
failures. As in the latter case, the subprime financial failure happened
in part because, ironically, the system worked as it was designed to. The
article contributes to the burgeoning focus on economics, markets, and
capitalism in social studies of science, and articulates with similar
efforts in social studies of finance and the new economic sociology. The
committee is confident that Poon’s work will be at the forefront of this
important new direction in the sociology of science.

10 Responses to “Prize to SSFer Martha Poon: Analysis of subprime mortgage crisis”

  1. alisonkemper1 Says:

    Fabulous. Well deserved. Brava!

  2. danielbeunza Says:

    It is very satisfactory to see that the sociology of science is rewarding the studies that deserve it. Congratulations!

  3. Manuel Aalbers Says:

    Congratulations!
    Can the paper be downloaded somewhere?

  4. yuvalmillo Says:

    Manuel – there’s a link in the post.

  5. Manuel Aalbers Says:

    Thanks!

  6. Aaron Pitluck Says:

    Congratulations Martha! This is wonderful news. I saw her present an earlier iteration at 4S and its outstanding stuff.

  7. George Says:

    Thank you, a helpful article


  8. This was a great help to me so thanks for the advice!


  9. I found the mortgage assistance group through google and Im thinking I should give them a try.


  10. […] like other risk screening processes studied by Deville and Poon, this is an exchange that apart of human beings, involves many other type of actors, such as forms, […]


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