Good news! The LSE is launching a new executive summer course in the sociology of finance. 

The course, titled “Culture, Networks and Performance,” is a first of its kind. For the first time, an academic program is putting to use the award-winning concepts of the sociology of financemarket devices, embeddedness, performativity— to give professionals in finance an advantage in trading, banking or risk management. 

This course is premised on one simple idea: that there is a new and distinctive way to think sociologically about financial markets. Different from orthodox economics and its emphasis on rational choice. Different as well from behavioral finance and its focus on individuals and mistakes (or “biases”). The sociology of finance incorporates technology like formulae and machines in our understanding of markets. It conceptualizes markets as controversies, where there is often no right and wrong. It explains why management, culture, practice, are critically important to the calculative processes of a bank. And it provides a balanced take on markets – in between the “markets always get it right” approach from economics, and the “this is how people get it wrong” from behavioral finance.  

Participants can expect to:

  • Understand the relational aspects of finance
  • Acquire skills to manage the culture of financial firms
  • Understand the impact of technology on financial markets
  • Discover the limits of economic and financial models 
  • Explore the ways in which by financial communication shapes value

The course is organized by Nina Andreeva and myself. But the instructors will include a broad set of heavyweights from the LSE, including Michael Power (LSE Accounting), Paul Willman (LSE Management), Jean Pierre Zigrand (LSE Finance) and Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra (LSE Sociology).

For more information, dates and a longer description, see here. And for even more information, just drop me a line at d.beunza@lse.ac.uk

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