Futures of finance and society, 2018
University of Edinburgh, 6-7 December

Organisers: Nathan Coombs, Tod Van Gunten
Keynotes: Donald MacKenzie, Annelise Riles, Gillian Tett
Sponsors: Edinburgh Futures Institute/University of Edinburgh

Call for papers available here

Ten years on from the global financial crisis, the settlement between finance and society remains ambiguous. Regulation has been tightened in traditional areas like banking, against a backdrop of fiscal austerity and the proliferation of new monies, financial platforms and investment vehicles. Building on the success of the Finance and Society Network’s previous ‘Intersections of finance and society’ conferences, ‘Futures of finance and society’ asks what new social, organisational and political forms are emerging and what direction they should take.

This two-day event, based at the University of Edinburgh’s historic Medical Quad, aims to deepen dialogue between the diverse disciplines contributing to the field of ‘finance and society’ studies. It seeks to develop new synergies between political, sociological, historical, and philosophical perspectives. In addition to providing a venue for presenting ongoing empirical and theoretical research, contributors are invited to propose and debate potential solutions for improving financial stability, expanding financial inclusion, and mitigating inequalities associated with financialisation.

The conference is organised through the Finance and Society Network (FSN), in association with the journal Finance and Society, the Edinburgh Futures Institute, and the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science (SPS).

Confirmed keynotes:

  • ‘Finance studies twenty years after Callon’, Donald MacKenzie (University of Edinburgh)
  • ‘Financial citizenship: Experts, publics, and the politics of central banking’, Annelise Riles (Cornell Law School)
  • ‘Financial cultures and financial crises’, Gillian Tett (Financial Times)

Contributions are invited in two formats:

  • Papers; abstract of up to 300 words
  • Panels; abstract of 100 words plus 3-4 paper abstracts up to 300 words

Themes on which we encourage contributions include:

  • Sociology of financial markets
  • Finance and social theory
  • Finance and inequality
  • Heterodox economics and finance theory
  • Gender and finance
  • Derivative and structured finance
  • Central banking and shadow banking
  • Financial crises, past and present
  • Financial regulation and state activism
  • Temporality, historicity, futurity, fictional expectations
  • Financial modelling and forecasting
  • Theology and finance
  • Finance and social reproduction
  • Finance and neoliberalism
  • New perspectives on financialisation
  • Financial markets and the digital economy
  • Financial technology
  • Money, financial markets, and psychoanalysis
  • Popular cultures of finance
  • Financialisation and contemporary art markets
  • Contemporary art practice in the age of finance

Please submit abstracts and proposals by 1 September 2018 to Nathan Coombs and Tod Van Gunten at the following address: futuresfinancesociety-at-gmail-dot-com

The editors of Finance and Society are encouraging paper submissions from conference participants.
For more information on the journal please visit: http://financeandsociety.ed.ac.uk

More information on last year’s FSN event is available on the 2017 conference website: https://intersectionsfinancesociety.wordpress.com/


Here’s perhaps the most intriguing observation I came upon in my five years of fieldwork on responsible investment. Sitting in an elegant whitewashed office in New York, curated African art on the walls, a white-haired financier explained to me why he took to responsible investment. “In the 1960’s,” he explained, “if you wanted to communicate with Bank of America, one way was to stand outside the corporate headquarters and throw a rock at the building.” By contrast, nowadays corporations such as Wal-Mart sit down with responsible investors to discuss their labor, environmental or governance policies.

Movements, the gentleman seemed to imply, could now leverage capitalism’s own mechanisms to reshape the system. Too good to be true?

A symposium in the upcoming Academy of Management in Boston explores precisely this issue. That is, the non-confrontational tactics that movements deploy to reshape the corporate agenda. It is organized by Fabrizio Ferraro, Brayden King and myself. And it will benefit from the comments of Huggy Rao (author of Market Rebels).

Here’s the session description from the official conference site:

Social movements have recently focused their activity on direct influence over corporations by targeting consumers and investors. Most studies of this trend have emphasized confrontational means such as protests and boycotts. But confrontation is not the only way to exert influence. The proposed symposium explores alternative tactics movements deploy. One is shaping the public discourse, such as shifting management attention towards more sustainable technologies. Another is shareholder engagement, which provides opportunities for activists to express their voice. A “big tent” approach could also be deployed to gain legitimacy for the emerging field of responsible investing. And last, corporations are also becoming active agents in supporting boycotts of competing firms, thus borrowing from the repertoire of movements.

And the list of presenters:

Influence of Non-confrontational SMO Tactics on Technology Adoption in the Energy Sector
Presenter: Shon R Hiatt; Harvard Business School;

Bringing Voice Back in the Market: A theory of shareholder engagement
Presenter: Fabrizio Ferraro; IESE Business School and Daniel Beunza; London School of Economics;

Tactical Mimesis in Private Politics: Companies’ appropriation of a contentious social movement
Presenter: Mary-Hunter McDonnell; Northwestern U.;

The Big Tent: Enacting demand for responsible investment
Presenter: Daniel Beunza; London School of Economics and Fabrizio Ferraro; IESE Business School;

The Impact of a Corporate Culture of Sustainability on Corporate Behavior and Performance
Presenter: Ioannis Ioannou; London Business School;

And the details:

Program Session #: 1789 | Submission: 13927 | Sponsor(s): (OMT, SIM, BPS)
Scheduled: Tuesday, Aug 7 2012 3:00PM – 4:30PM at Sheraton Boston Hotel in Republic A

Understanding Markets
Understanding Markets: Information, Institutions and History

Sponsored by the Hagley Museum and Library and the German Historical Institute
October 30 and 31, 2009 in Wilmington, DE, USA

To recognize the contributions of Austrian immigrant and market analyst Ernest Dichter, and to celebrate the opening of his rich business records, the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware and the German Historical Institute in Washington D.C. jointly invite proposals for the conference, “Understanding Markets: Information, Institutions and History” October 30-31, 2009 at Hagley.

Since markets are not transparent to those engage in them, and change continually over time, understanding markets is a complex process that involves a wide range of individuals and institutions. This conference invites historically-grounded contributions that explore the practices and institutions through which such efforts have proceeded in Europe and North America, ca. 1750-2000. Papers may consider many aspects of efforts to understand markets, such as the acquisition, dissemination, cost and reliability of information; institutionalization of research activities; the impact of secrecy, deception, bias, and misinformation; the influence of market research on production and marketing decisions; conceptual or theoretical foundations and assumptions; and instructive failures or successes. We encourage proposals to address who was engaged in efforts to understand markets, whether individuals such as salesmen, merchants, researchers, or purchasing officers; organizations, including firms, agencies, and consortia; or third party institutions, e.g. trade associations, information providers, and governments.

The conveners are Roger Horowitz and Philip Scranton of the Hagley Museum and Library and Hartmut Berghoff and Uwe Spiekermann of the German Historical Institute.

Proposals should be no more than 500 words and should be accompanied by a short C.V. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2009. Travel support is available for those presenting papers at the conference. To submit a proposal or to obtain more information, please contact Carol Lockman, Hagley Museum and Library, PO Box 3630, Wilmington DE 19807, 302-658-2400, ext. 243; 302-655-3188 (fax); e-mail.

The Council for European Studies (CES, Columbia University), which supports the multidisciplinary study of Europe, held its 16th International Conference last Saturday in Chicago.  A panel on ‘New Perspective in Economic Culture’ organized by Karin Knorr-Cetina and Erica Coslor featured four papers, all dealing with finance related topics.


Karen Hunt Ahmed (professor of finance, DePaul University) discussed Islamic finance as a cultural industry that innovates Sharia compliant ways of structuring financial products and transactions.  Hunt Ahmed pointed to the central importance of Sharia Standards Boards as the institutional underpinning of Islamic finance.  She argues that because there are so few professional with the specialized training to serve on these boards, an important challenge to the rising demands for Sharia compliant products (particularly as these become considered a class of ‘socially responsible investments’) will be the industry’s ability to manage the circulation and supply of Sharia expertise.


Erica Coslor (graduate student, UChicago) presented a paper describing the emergence of price indexes and specialized art investment funds.  Instead of looking at simple price books, art investors now have access to complex pricing indicators which allow them to compare the return-on-investment they can expect from art as compared to other investment vehicles.  While the emergence of such instruments lowers the information costs necessary to participating in the art market and make art investment accessible to people who are not collectors, Coslor cautions that that average investors will still have access much less information on the quality of the pieces than industry experts.


Rachel Harvey (graduate student, UChicago) has traced the history of the ‘gold fix’ in the U.K.  Gold fixing began as a financial activity during which several banks would regularly meet to set a public price of gold.  Harvey traces the ritual’s gradual detachment from the markets, as it ceased to be the moment when an actual trading benchmark was produced, and evolved a general international indicator of the health of the financial system and as symbolic support for the pound sterling.  By 1960, she argues, gold fixing has become an ‘invented tradition’, a cultural product of the London Gold Market preserved for its symbolic importance rather than for any practical role in price setting. 

Martha Poon (graduate student, UCSD) presented a paper on the transition in U.S. mortgage finance from a market dominated by simple low-risk securities issued by government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), to a market for structured high-risk securities issued by private label lenders and evaluated by the ratings agencies.  In 1995, in the transition to automated underwriting systems, the GSEs issued key interpretations of commercially available credit risk scores as means of assessing the creditworthiness of individuals.  Poon argues that in diffusing throughout the industry, these interpretations reconstituted the ‘prime’ / ‘subprime’ split in home loan lending. 

The discussant for this panel was Ryon Lancaster (professor, UChicago).