June 24-26, 2016, U of CA-Berkeley. Deadline January 18

We are organizing an international mini-conference with the theme, “Islam and the Construction of New Economic Moralities: Divergence, Convergence and Competing Futures.”  The conference will be held at the University of California-Berkeley June 24-26, 2016, as part of a larger SASE conference with the highly relevant theme, “Moral Economies, Economic Moralities.”  Selection of papers will be based on 1000 word extended abstracts, which are due January 18, 2016.  Full papers will be due May 30, 2016.  Three best papers awards will be given, as well as a limited number of travel grants for graduate students.  To learn more about SASE and its annual conference, see https://sase.org

This mini-conference invites contributions from across the social sciences and humanities to reflect on the past, present, and contested futures of Islam’s new financial and economic moralities. As part of the Islamic revival of the 1970s and 1980s, social movements worldwide have pursued multiple strategies to imagine and implement an economic system organized around Islamic values such as social justice, reciprocity and the spiritual, moral, intellectual, social, and material well-being of individuals. This includes the US$2.5 trillion Islamic finance industry and US$1.29 trillion halal food market, not to mention Islamic “modest fashion,” halal pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and Islamically-marketed travel, recreation, and lifestyle products.  It also includes philanthropic institutions such as pious foundations (waqf) and charities funded by almsgiving (zakah).  Islamic economic practices range from the morally guided everyday practices of individuals to those of multinational corporations and state elites seeking to enter and advance Islamic markets. With the hindsight of forty years, we can observe heterogeneous and explicitly competing Islamic economic moralities, found at various scales of socio-economic organization.

Three overlapping research projects have emerged as a result of the rapid growth of the Islamic economy. First, it has attracted social scientists seeking to document and interpret the historical and contemporary dynamics of this new socio-economic phenomenon. This strand of scholarship studies the emergence of the Islamic economy either on its own terms, or with reference to its convergence and divergence with other economies, be they explicitly moral or otherwise. Second, it has generated research by academics and practitioners to advance this socio-economic project. In this scholarship, Islamic economy is often conceptualized as part of an emerging alternative modernity that explicitly embraces the morality of economic action. Third, it has also generated scholarship critical of Islamic economic practices, particularly in Islamic banking and finance. Much of this third research stream argues that Islamic finance is excessively focused on efficiency and profitability at the expense of Islamic moral values such as equity, fairness, and individual development. Importantly, it debates the extent to which the Islamic finance industry has diverged from Islamic idea(l)s, investigates alternative aspirations for Islamic finance, and deliberates strategies for transforming its current trajectory.

Embracing all three research streams, the conference aims to (i) (re-)examine the key axioms and moral claims of Islamic economy both in theory and as practiced; (ii) explore the economic, social and political dynamics underpinning the various sectors, scales and sites of the Islamic economy; and (iii) interrogate the extent to which the Islamic economy provides a substantive alternative to mainstream economic activity with a special emphasis on the Islamic finance sector. A provisional list of panel topics and indicative research questions can be accessed at the University of Warwick or University of Durham.  King Saud University is providing a limited number of travel grants for graduate students – read the Conference Submissions and Awards Guidelines for more information.

Please note that candidates should send 1000 word abstracts by January 18, 2016 (and not 500 word abstracts, as is typical in other SASE panels).  For additional information on how to submit, please look at https://sase.org/about-sase/conference-submission-and-award-guidelines_fr_25.html

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the three corresponding organizers below:

Mehmet Asutay (Corresponding organizer) Professor in Middle East and Islamic Political Economy and Finance Director, Durham Centre for Islamic Economics and Finance Durham University Business School Durham University, UK Email: mehmet.asutay@durham.ac.uk

Necati Aydin Associate Professor of Economics College of Business, Alfaisal University Associate Director, Islamic Banking Center, King Saud University

Aaron Z. Pitluck (Corresponding organizer) Associate Professor of Sociology, Illinois State University Visiting Scholar, University of Chicago Email: Pitluck@IllinoisState.edu

Lena Rethel (Corresponding organizer) Associate Professor of International Political Economy Department of Politics and International Studies University of Warwick Email: L.Rethel@warwick.ac.uk

Haider Ala Hamoudi Associate Professor of Law Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development University of Pittsburgh

Kabir Hassan Professor of Finance and Hibernia Professor of Economics and Finance Department of Economics and Finance University of New Orleans, USA

Abdullah Q. Turkistani Professor of Islamic Economics Dean Islamic Economics Institute King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia

We would like to bring to your attention the track on “Organizing in the Shadow of Financial Markets,” which we are convening as part of the European Group of Organization Studies’ (EGOS) 32nd Colloquium in Naples, Italy, July 7-9, 2016.

Our goal is to bring together organization theorists, sociologists and management scholars studying the financial sector and its impact on organizing. We invite submissions from any theoretical perspective, and with different methodological approaches.

The deadline for the short paper (3,000 words) submission is January 11, 2016, and the detailed instructions for submission can be found at:


You can access the full call for papers here:


If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact any one of us.

Best regards,

Fabrizio Ferraro, fferraro@iese.edu

Michael Lounsbury, ml37@ualberta.ca

Matteo Prato, matteo.prato@usi.ch

21st and 22nd of April 2016

Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies

University of Warwick


“What’s on your mind?” This is the question to which every Facebook status update now responds. Millions of users sharing their thoughts in one giant performance of what Clay Shirky once called “cognitive surplus”. Contemporary media platforms aren’t simply a stage for this cognitive performance. They are more like directors, staging scenes, tweaking scripts, working to get the best or fully “optimized” performance. As Katherine Hayles has pointed out, media theory has long taken for granted that we think “through, with and alongside media”. Pen and paper, the abacus, and modern calculators are obvious cases in point, but the list quickly expands and with it longstanding conceptions of the Cartesian mind dissolve away. Within the cognitive sciences, cognition is now routinely described as embodied, extended, and distributed. They too recognize that cognition takes place beyond the brain, in between people, between people and things, and combinations thereof. The varieties of specifically human thought, from decision-making to reasoning and interpretation, are now considered one part of a broader cognitive spectrum shared with other animals, systems, and intelligent devices.


Today, the technology we mostly think through, with and alongside are computers. We routinely rely on intelligent devices for any number of operations, but this is no straightforward “augmentation”. Our cognitive capacities are equally instrumentalized, plugged into larger cognitive operations from which we have little autonomy. Our cognitive weaknesses are exploited and manipulated by techniques drawn from behavioural economics and psychology. If Vannevar Bush once pondered how we would think in the future, he received a partial response in Steve Krug’s best selling book on web usability: Don’t Make Me Think! Streams of Consciousness aims to explore cognition, broadly conceived, in an age of intelligent devices. We aim to critically interrogate our contemporary infatuation with specific cognitive qualities – such as “smartness” and “intelligence” – while seeking to genuinely understand the specific forms of cognition that are privileged in our current technological milieu. We are especially interested in devices that mediate access to otherwise imperceptible forms of data (too big, too fast), so it can be acted upon in routine or novel ways.


Topics of the conference include but are not limited to: 

– data and cognition

– decision-making technologies

– algorithms, AI and machine learning

– visualization, perception

– sense and sensation

– business intelligence and data exploration

– signal intelligence and drones

– smart and dumb things

– choice and decision architecture

– behavioural economics and design

– technologies of nudging

– interfaces

– bodies, data, and (wearable) devices

– optimization

– web and data analytics (including A/B and multivariate testing)


Confirmed Speakers 

Professor Louise Amoore, Geography, Durham University

Dr. James Ash, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

Dr. David Berry, Centre for Material Digital Culture, University of Sussex

Dr. Will Davies, PERC, Goldsmiths College

Dr. Michael Dieter, CIM, Warwick University

Professor Steve Fuller, Sociology, Warwick University

Dr. Jeniffer Gabrys, Sociology, Goldsmiths College

Dr. Antoinette Rouvroy, CRID, University of Namur

Dr. Natasha Schull, Media, Culture and Communication, NYU

Dr, Nick Srnicek

Professor Nigel Thrift

Professor Michael Wheeler, Philosophy, University of Stirling


Please submit individual abstracts of no longer than 300 words. Panel proposals are also welcome and should also be 300 words. Panel proposals should also include indvidual abstracts. The deadline for submissions is Friday the 18th of December and submissions should be made to cimconf@warwick.ac.uk. Accepted submissions will be notified by 20th of January 2016.

Leveraging Knowledge

November 23, 2015

From Jessica Weinkle

In a financial report for the US Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, I read about their S&P Credit rating.  Among other things, the rating rests on relatively stable Federal funding.  Following the trail, I turned up credit ratings for other large research groups entire academic institutions.
Brief skims of the credit reports indicates Federal funding as a key variable for credit rating decisions.  For instance, an except from Moody’s review of UCAR (closely associated with the National Center for Academic Research):

STRENGTH: A substantial portion of UCAR’s funding is received through a cooperative agreement from the National Science Foundation.

CHALLENGE: UCAR is heavily reliant on federal funding for its research (98% of operating revenues are grants and contracts), with limited revenue diversification, exposing the organization to the risk of contract termination.

A general report by S&P on non-profit universities mentions “tuition” at least 38 times.  To the extent that tuition availability is perceived to rest on American public support for student loans, then here is another connection between Federal funding and credit ratings.
In hindsight, it seems obvious that large institutions carry debt and have credit ratings.  But, in mulling it over, this seems to add a different twist to the science- social benefit connection.
Where credit worthiness is tied to Federal support, how does an investment market for academic and research debt affect expectations of those institutions?  Are nations beholden to these institutions for sake of economic stability regardless of their ability to serve other sorts of needs?
I don’t know that these are the right questions to ask.  But, I’m curious to know any thoughts or opinions. I am also curious to know if this is a US phenomena, though I am inclined to believe that this is not likely.


We are organizing this event which may be of interest to blog readers:


Debt trails:
Mapping relations of debt and credit from everyday actors to global credit markets

with Paul Langley and Liz McFall

3-4 March 2016, Budapest, Hungary, ELTE University

The 2007-8 global financial crisis was interpreted by many as a challenge to mainstream economics and as an opportunity for social sciences to provide alternative explanations. This opportunity has hardly been realised, even though the crisis has given further impetus to studies looking at credit and debt outside the economics discipline. One of the reasons lies in the disciplinary variety and diverse theoretical lenses used by social sciences, ranging from economic sociology to economic geography, political economy and Social Studies of Finance, which arguably do not provide a uniform, let alone universal explanation as economics does.

One of the main divisions among social science takes on credit and debt is between what can be termed microscopic vs macroscopic research agendas. The application of Actor-Network Theory, Science and Technology Studies and practice-theory approaches to economic phenomena, particularly in the interdisciplinary field of Social Studies of Finance, has been celebrated for describing the very concrete, material processes that make up the Economy (cf. MacKenzie 2006; McFall 2014; Deville 2015). This work resonates with Latour’s (2005) program to follow the actors and with Christophers’ (2011a; 2011b) call to ‘follow the money’ by applying the commodity chain approach to money, and credit in particular, in order to reveal ‘the social and economic relations both underpinning and occasioned by money’s creation and circulation’ (2011a:1069-70). Critics, on the other hand, saw these accounts as merely providing ‘all cogs and no car’, getting lost in empirical detail, being devoid of politics (Winner 1993; Mirowski and Nik-Khah 2007) and ignoring the most important sites of credit and debt relations: institutions, regulation, and ultimately, social relations (Gilbert 2011). More macroscopic approaches (cf. Langley 2008; Crouch 2009; Krippner 2011), developing larger theoretical and empirical claims, in turn, were praised for actually proving the car rather than merely the cogs; and were at the same time accused by critics of missing empirical detail and filling the resulting gaps with concepts and the untraceable operation of larger forces, such as Power or the Social.

One way of approaching this divide is to suggest that different scales require different theoretical lenses. If one is to study everyday debt or a smaller local site, microscopic concepts, such as ‘practices’, and microscopic methods, such as ANT, are useful; whereas the study of the global financial system requires a ‘bigger’ lens, such as a political economy approach. Others, in contrast, see these approaches as reflecting different ontologies and choices implying trade-offs between detail and generality of the argument. According to this view, the same theoretical and empirical tools can be applied irrespective of the ‘size’ of the phenomenon; size is seen as a matter of scale. This question is one of the key concerns of this workshop.

The second concern relates to the fact that most empirical work and derived theories on credit and debt are focused on Western contexts, despite some notable attempts to counter the trend (cf. Deville and Seigworth 2015). To some extent this phenomenon is an unintended consequence of the approaches described above. If meeting the imperative of a clear ‘theoretical contribution’ is a challenge for all microscopic studies, it is all the more so for those carried out outside Western contexts, in ‘less interesting’ places. For macroscopic studies, in turn, a theory based on data on these ‘special’ cases is simply not general enough. As a result, the study of credit and debt in non-Western contexts is more developed in comparative studies (cf. Schwartz and Seabrooke 2008; Bohle 2014), and ironically, in economics, where – thanks to its universalistic ontology – context hardly matters. The second aim of the workshop is to reflect on the plurality of debt and debt trails, and to open up questions not only about local-global connectivities and variations, but also about how these variations can actually be constitutive of the nature of the debt relation itself (cf. Ossandón forthcoming).

The workshop seeks to bring these diverse theoretical lenses and area focuses into conversation and features an exchange between Paul Langley and Liz McFall exploring the challenge of practice focused studies. The aim is to foster a more thorough understanding of debt and credit and to open up theoretical exchanges across disciplinary boundaries. To do that the workshop focuses on the following questions:

1. Do we have to change our theoretical lens when we look at different actors of the credit/debt phenomenon? Or can the same theories that we use to understand everyday borrower practices be used to understand international regulation? What are the trade-offs that are involved in our choice?

2. Which analytical terms are best suited to describe the relationship between different actors? Why and how do these relations matter? What do we gain by connecting different actors of the credit and debt market compared to focusing on one or two actors?

3. What do we gain by studying contexts outside Western countries and in what ways can these studies be brought into dialogue with the existing body of knowledge? Are variations mainly interesting from a comparative angle, or are these connections and variations central to the debt relations themselves?

The workshop welcomes participants working either on a specific actor of the credit/debt market or on their interconnections, broadly conceived. Participants will be asked to send a short (3000 word) piece reflecting on the theme of the workshop based on their own research.

The workshop will take place in Budapest, and is hosted by the Department of Media and Communication, ELTE University with support from the Journal of Cultural Economy and the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA).


To apply please send a 300-word abstract by the 14th of December 2015 to debttrails@gmail.com 


Paul Langley is Reader in Economic Geography at Durham University. His research combines cultural economy and economic geography approaches to understand financial markets, including everyday credit and savings, sub-prime mortgages, financial regulation and alternative forms of finance. He is author of the books World Financial Orders (Routledge, 2002), The Everyday Life of Global Finance (Oxford University Press, 2008) and Liquidity Lost (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Liz McFall is Head of the Department of Sociology at the Open University and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Cultural Economy. Her research has traced the making of diverse consumer markets, including the market for

health insurance and payday loans, using pragmatic, historical and cultural economy approaches. Her books include Advertising: A Cultural Economy (Sage, 2004), Conduct: sociology and social worlds (Manchester University Press, 2008), Devising Consumption: cultural economies of insurance, credit and spending (Routledge, 2014) and Market and The Arts of Attachment (Routledge, 2016).

Workshop organizers: Léna Pellandini-Simányi (ELTE), Ferenc Hammer (ELTE), Zsuzsanna Vargha (University of Leicester)




Bohle, D. (2014). “Post-socialist housing meets transnational finance: Foreign banks, mortgage lending, and the privatization of welfare in Hungary and Estonia.” Review of International Political Economy 21(4): 913- 948.

Christophers, B. (2011a). “Credit, where credit’s due. Response to “Follow the thing: credit”.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29: 1089-1091.

Christophers, B. (2011b). “Follow the thing: Money.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29: 1068- 1084.

Crouch, C. (2009). “Privatised Keynesianism: An Unacknowledged Policy Regime.” The British Journal of Politics & International Relations 11(3): 382-399.

Deville, J. (2015). Lived Economies of Default. Consumer Credit, Debt Collection and the Capture of Affect. London, Routledge.

Deville, J. and G. J. Seigworth, Eds. (2015). Special Issue: Everyday Debt and Credit of Cultural Studies. 29 (5- 6).

Gilbert, E. (2011). “Follow the thing: Credit. Response to “Follow the thing: Money”.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29: 1085-1088.

Krippner, G. R. (2011). Capitalizing on Crisis: The Political Origins of the Rise of Finance. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press.

Langley, P. (2008). The everyday life of global finance: Saving and borrowing in Anglo-America. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford ; New York, Oxford University Press.

MacKenzie, D. (2006). An engine, not a camera: how financial models shape the markets. Cambridge (MA), MIT Press.

McFall, L. (2014). Devising Consumption: Cultural economies of insurance, credit and spending. New York ; London, Routledge.

Mirowski, P. and E. Nik-Khah (2007). Markets Made Flesh: Performativity, and a Problem in Science Studies, Augmented with Consideration of the FCC Auctions. Do economists make markets? On the Performativity of Economics. D. MacKenzie, F. Muniesa and L. Siu. Princeton, Princeton University Press: 190-254.

Ossandón, J. (forthcoming). “Sowing consumers in the garden of mass retailing in Chile.” Consumption Markets & Culture, special issue, “consuming finance”, edited by P. Langley.

Schwartz, H. and L. Seabrooke (2008). “Varieties of Residential Capitalism in the International Political Economy: Old Welfare States and the New Politics of Housing.” Comparative European Politics 6: 237-261.

Winner, L. (1993). “Upon Opening the Black Box and Finding It Empty: Social Constructivism and the Philosophy of Technology.” Science Technology Human Values 18(3): 362-378.

From Nathan Coombs

The journal Finance and Society has issued two Call for Papers for forthcoming special issues, both scheduled for publication in 2016.

Finance and Art

The first, entitled Finance and Art, is guest edited by Suhail Malik (Goldsmiths) and Gerald Nestler (Independent artist). The issue invites historical, ethnographic, sociological, philosophical, and artistic engagement in thinking about the flood of money that is entering the art world. In particular, the issue aims to move from critique towards the construction of new theories and practices able to make sense of the production, valuation, and circulation of symbolic, pecuniary, and material responses to the logics of finance.

Please submit abstracts or proposals by 1 December 2015 to both Suhail Malik (s.malik@gold.ac.uk) and Gerald Nestler (mail@geraldnestler.net) for initial review. Once screened the deadline for complete contributions will be 15 February 2016, after which they will undergo double-blind peer review. The special issue will be published as vol. 2, no. 1 in September 2016.

Further information about the issue is available here.

Ethics of Debt

The second special issue is entitled Ethics of Debt and is guest edited by William Carter (Iowa State) and Kate Padgett Walsh (Iowa State). Building on the recent contributions of authors such as David Graeber, Kenneth Dyson, and Miranda Joseph to the enduring topic of debt, this issue seeks bold, post-disciplinary scholarship exploring how financial practices emerge from and shape the social and ethical dimensions of debt today. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, financial practices in the history of political economy and the ethics of financial innovation.

Completed manuscripts of 9,000–11,000 words should be submitted to William Carter (wcarter@iastate.edu) and Kate Padgett Walsh (kpadwa@iastate.edu) for initial review by 15 February 2016. The special issue will be published as vol. 2, no. 2 in December 2016.

Further information about the issue is available here.


The new issue of the Economic Sociology European Electronic Newsletter (ESEEN) has been published.

The issue focuses on the sociology of insurance, presenting recent research on the topic. Authors include Mike Power, Liz McFall, and Jose Ossandon, whose work is linked to the SocFinance blog in many ways.

While many blog readers are already subscribed to ESEEN, for those new to it, the journal features short research papers, book reviews, PhD research, interviews and information relevant to those interested in the field. ESEEN is a free and open access journal, published three times a year by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, each year with a different Editor.

This year I have the honor of serving as Editor. I wish you happy reading and look forward to your comments.

Full access to the Newsletter is available here.

You can also download the entire issue as a pdf file.

Subscription to the Newsletter is easy and enables you to receive the latest issue directly by email.




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