Crowd Dynamics and Financial Markets, Research Colloquium @ CBS

January 23, 2014

Christian Borch at Copenhagen Business School has announced the speaker schedule for his Research Colloquium on ‘Crowd Dynamics and Financial Markets’.

The aim of this research colloquium is to explore crowd dynamics, financial markets and possible links between the two. For further information, please contact Professor Christian Borch ( or visit

Venue: Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135, DK–2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

List of Spring 2014 talks after the jump:

3 February, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135

José Ossandón: ‘“My Story has no Strings Attached”: Credit Cards, Market Devices and a Stone Guest’

Social ties are normally seen as either pre-existing or threatened by commercial transactions. This presentation explores the case of a social formation that parasites a market device. Drawing on information collected in two different sites, low income households and credit risk management departments, the presentation will describe how a particular market device, department store credit cards, performs simultaneously two very different forms of loans in Santiago Chile. On the one hand, cards are a central feature in the marketing strategy known as ‘sowing’ (Ossandón 2013), which consists of managing the credit limit associated with each card not only on the basis of external variables or collateral (such as income or property) but through careful surveillance of customers’ payment behaviour. On the other hand, cards are used in the extended practice of borrowing and loaning supermarket and department store credit limits, or ‘quotas’, between family, friend and other relations. To grasp this particular duality, the paper makes three main movements. First, Zelizer’s work on ‘circuits of commerce’ is used to complement the literature on ‘market devices’ in theorizing these emergent social formations. Second, armed with cork bulletin board, yarn, and pushpins of different sizes and colours, I rehearse a new way of visualising the intricate secondary relational circuit of the quota economy. And third, Serres’ notion of the parasite is mobilized to understand both credit respect to retail and the quota circuit respect to consumer credit.

José Ossandón is Assistant Professor in the Department of Organizations, Copenhagen Business School, Associate Researcher in Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales, Universidad Diego Portales Chile and received his PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London. His main areas of interest are the enactment of finance objects, how markets are organized, evaluated and tamed, and broad contemporary social theory. His PhD thesis focused on health insurance and he is currently studying the consumer credit industry.


17 February, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135

Jakob Arnoldi: ‘Algorithmic Trading and a Normative Reconfiguration of Financial Trading’


In this presentation I discuss the use of algorithmic models in finance (algo trading). Algo trading is widespread, but also somewhat controversial, in modern financial markets. It is a form of automated trading technology which critics among other things claim can lead to market manipulation. Drawing on three cases, this article shows that manipulation more likely happens in the reverse way, meaning that human traders attempt to make algorithms ‘make mistakes’ by ‘misleading’ them. Thus, it is algorithmic models, not humans, which are the victims of manipulation. Such manipulation poses challenges for security exchanges. The article analyses these challenges and argues that we witness a new post-social form of human-technology interaction that is leading to a reconfiguration of the regulation of financial markets.


Jakob Arnoldi is Professor at Department of Business Administration, School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University. He has published several articles on financial markets and is also author of Alles Geld Verdampft (Suhrkamp, 2009) on the financial crisis.


24 February, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135

Vincent Lépinay: ‘Inventing the Noise Trader’

The noise trader emerges in the economic literature in the mid-1980s and is quickly mobilized by various groups to redefine the nature and characteristics of financial markets. In this talk, we discuss how behavioral approaches have been used by policy makers to trace new categories of market participants.

Vincent Lépinay is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and at the Médialab, Sciences Po, Paris. He is the author of Codes of Finance: Engineering Derivatives in a Global Bank (Princeton University Press, 2011).


3 March, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135

Luciana Parisi: ‘Automated Cognition and Capital’

The centrality of automated cognition in capitalism is most clearly evident in the increased rationalisation of industrial labour and the service sector, involving the computational monitoring and manipulation of data in real time. Software, protocols, databases and interfaces are the active components of this rationalisation through which cultural, social, and economic relations are capitalised (Galloway; Chun). In particular, the emerging economy of intellectual labour has been identified as the motor of cognitive capitalism (Negri), which directly profits from creativity and affective manipulations, exploiting thought processes to generate new opportunities for the market. This logic of modulating cognition is exemplified by the intrinsic affordances that software offers us: potentialities to socialise, learn, create, interact, and develop new cognitive capacities. Some have argued that the generation of networked cognitive capacities can also be seen as a new opportunity for the political liberation of the creative potentials of collective intelligence. However, in this talk I will discuss that automation importantly involves the emergence of algorithmic forms of abstraction, evaluation and prediction that must be understood in their capacity to create conceptual models that feed on the indeterminate nature of ideas. Whilst so far much scholarship has been concerned with the capacities of IT corporations, such as Google, to predict decision and financial behavior, it is rather crucial today to consider the algorithmic automation of reason as no longer being primarily co-constituted by its relation with human thought. Instead, one of the striking features of digital capital in this robot to robot phase transition is precisely the interaction between different algorithmic ‘species’ and competing computational models.

Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Studies and Director of the PhD Programme at the Centre for Cultural Studies. She teaches on the MA Interactive Media: Critical Theory and Practice at Goldsmiths University of London. Her research focuses on the intersection of continental philosophy, information science and technology. Amongst her publications there are two monographs, Abstract Sex. Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (Continuum Press, 2004) and Contagious Architecture. Computation, Aesthetic and Space (MIT Press, 2013).


17 March, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135

Marc Lenglet: ‘Between Things and Objects: Algorithms, Regulation and the Realization of Financial Materiality’

Since the ‘dematerialization’ of markets that occurred in the late 1990s, financial instruments and exchanges have been replaced by multiple inscriptions: either textual registrations of ownership in dedicated accounting books (in the case of financial instruments), or algorithmic transcriptions coded in dedicated IT devices allowing for the ‘meeting’ of buyers and sellers (in the case of marketplaces). This ontological shift relating to the very nature of markets and the transactions taking place thereof raises important issues with regard to the formation, the expression and the representation of financial materiality: indeed, if the virtualized activities (the negotiations) and their support (the places where they happen) are not mere simulacra, how do these access to their materiality? Drawing on ethnographic material gathered during a long-lasting participant-observation in a pan-European brokerage house, this paper discusses the nature of algorithms now playing a critical role in the making of contemporary finance: not only have they contributed to the shift from physical marketplaces to virtual market networks, but also are they now moving towards a new destination. Being used by intermediaries and market participants to dissect, describe, and duplicate the practices that used to be produced and activated by human traders, algorithms now stand at the core of financial transactions and create an area of their own, the status of which remains unclear. Thinking of algorithms as the expression of a series of co-constructed processes rather than given objects helps us in the understanding and reconstructing of financial facticity: enacting states of the market through the activation of patterns of actions, algorithms tend to reconfigure essential categories such as time (acting within milliseconds) and space (creating their own ‘state’ between IT servers). They therefore question our ability to get a grip on them, and to form a representation of the kind of reality they produce. As such, they challenge the very idea of their possible regulation.

Marc Lenglet is Lecturer in management at the European Business School Paris (Management, Strategy, Systems Department). With interests in phenomenology and anthropology, his research focuses on the compliance function and the dissemination of norms within financial practices and objects. Before joining the academia, he worked as an Equities Compliance Officer in a European brokerage house.


28 April, 3–5 pm, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Room 3.135

Lisa Blackman: ‘Haunted Data: Immaterial Bodies, Affect and Mediation and Feeling the Future

This presentation will explore the concept of haunted data as a way of drawing attention to those controversies, which threaten or disrupt the primacy of cognition in assessments and anticipations of the workings of social and cultural processes, including financial markets. It has been firmly established that notions of contagion – associated with crowd thinking, for example – are pre-emptive, often in unpredictable ways of market trends. This might include the concept of herd mentalities, panic, hysteria and the importance of the mood of the market. This talk will examine some of the precursors of crowd psychology – which bear on these ideas – and their psychic precursors – including the idea that one can feel the future. The talk will consider what we might learn from how these ideas circulate, in reconfigured forms, in contemporary neuroscience and related media cultures. The focus will be on experimentation surrounding automaticity and the phenomenology of will, and what a critical assessment of these forms of experimentation might suggest about crowds and financial markets.


Lisa Blackman is a Professor in the Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. She works at the intersection of body studies and media and cultural theory. She is the editor of the journal Body & Society (Sage) and co-editor of Subjectivity (with Valerie Walkerdine, Palgrave). She has published four books: Immaterial Bodies: Affect, Embodiment, Mediation (2012, Sage/TCS); The Body: The Key Concepts (2008, Berg); Hearing Voices: Embodiment and Experience (2001, Free Association Books); Mass Hysteria: Critical Psychology and Media Studies (with Valerie Walkerdine, 2001, Palgrave). She teaches courses which span critical media psychology, affect studies, embodiment and body studies, and experimentation in the context of art/science. She is particularly interested in phenomena which have puzzled scientists, artists, literary writers and the popular imagination for centuries, including automaticity, voice hearing, suggestion and telepathy. She is currently working on a project on Haunted Data.

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