I am pleased to announce a new addition to the LSE’s summer school offerings. A course on the Social Studies of Finance. See here for the website.

The course builds on the very positive experience that Yuval and I had in Columbia Business School with “From Bodies to Black-Scholes.” This was a one-day course in 2008 for graduate students from Chicago, Cornell, or Berkeley. (Interestingly, now some of them are on the faculty at some of those institutions.)

The new course, however, is primarily meant for undergraduates in social sciences: sociology, anthropology, management, psychology or economics. Or recent graduates. Some students may have limited professional experience in banking or consulting. But most will probably not. It is an academic course, with classes almost every morning and seminars almost every afternoon. There is a ton of readings, an exam and a grade. And an LSE certificate at the end.

The aim of the course is to give students a firm grounding the social studies of finance. This includes: the notion of performativity, the role of material devices, and the ways these complement social networks and institutionalist approaches to markets. We are going to teach the award-winning papers, including this one and this one. The social studies of finance is the most exciting new intellectual development in sociology in the past years. Do you think I’m exaggerating? Check out a citation analysis impact here. And the regulatory impact here.

So who’s teaching this? I will be teaching most of the lectures, sometimes with guest lecturers – hedge fund managers from the City. We might even have a trip to the city, to see those banks and funds on site. Yuval Millo will be teaching in it too: even though he moved for a professorship at the University of Leicester, he’ll be here. We’re also lucky to have Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra (sociology, LSE), specialist on the London Stock Exchange. And we will be using the textbook written by Donald MacKenzie, Material Markets.

In sum: come and join us! The LSE Summer School is a phenomenal intellectual experience, and this new course will give you an original perspective on how financial actually markets work. If you have questions, feel free to write to me at d.beunza@lse.ac.uk

Blog readers may be interested in the call for papers for a sub-theme on “Markets Inside the Ecological Revolution” at the 2011 EGOS Colloquium. The sub-theme is not SSF-centered but remains open to SSF-related topics:

“At the time this subtheme abstract was being drafted, burning kerosene for academic purposes (e.g. getting to this conference by plane) was still considered okay. Perhaps this is not the case anymore in the summer of 2011. We are waiting for a revolution that is already happening, a truly global revolution, a revolution of people and things, a revolution of the earth, a revolution that ought to affect the way democracy operates, the way business is done, the way innovation is considered and the way daily life gets organized. In particular, this thing that we call the “market economy” will be put to the test by the ecological revolution, perhaps violently.

Within the ecological revolution “shifting assemblies” and “shifting assemblages” intermingle together. The organizing dynamics associated with markets inside the ecological revolution thus posits itself as a most suitable topic for organizational inquiry and as a fine occasion for productive discussion in this colloquium. Assemblages do shift as new experiments, new products, new actors, new value metrics, new institutions and new instruments struggle to come into existence. The idea of “markets” is considered here in the wide sense of multiple, collective arrangements for economic exchange and valuation. The notion of “ecological revolution” does also encompass an open variety of areas: climate change, energy, green technology, natural resources, pollutants, food industry and agriculture, transportation, etc.

Researchers are called upon to think through these exceptional transformations in assemblages and shifts in agencies. Multiple social-scientific perspectives are possible, and are all most welcome. But one thing is rather clear: as the ecological revolution keeps on making it explicit, the materiality of collective existence cannot go unnoticed anymore within the social sciences. Inquiry into human institutions and cognitive practices is to include, at its core, an examination of the material assemblages that organize and disorganize them. Emphasis is put on case studies and empirical investigation, not on purely theoretical disquisitions. Contributors are also expected to be familiar with discussions on the topic of “organizing markets” in economic sociology, in new institutionalism, in science and technology studies, in innovation economics or in organization studies at large.

How does the ecological revolution affect uncertainty in valuation? How is the value and the cost of a new technology demonstrated? Is there something wrong with current value metrics? How is political concernment instilled into markets? Is ecological militancy compatible with corporate interests? Is green consumer conduct a suitable object for economic engineering? Are there viable experiments for a massive internalization of externalities? Do economic incentives make sense as ecological devices? Is it the right time for liberalization? Is the ecological revolution an accounting revolution? Is it a trading revolution? Can technological lock-in hold as a fair excuse against a political transformation of markets? What are the costs of change, and how are they calculated? How are market problems and market solutions framed in the ecological revolution? These and similar questions will be tackled through in-depth discussion of submitted contributions.”

More details about the sub-themes and its convenors here. Guidelines and submission criteria here (deadline 16 January 2011).