SOC 326 Spring 2014 Financial Lives (W)

Since the 1970s, the international financial sector has grown dramatically, outpacing its traditional role in facilitating international trade and production. New markets, financial instruments, and market participants have precipitated growth in the volume of financial flows and in their significance to economies and livelihoods worldwide. In this course, we will consider the financial system from the point of view of those who operate it. After an overview of the expansion of financial markets since the 1970s, we will investigate the working lives, practices, and perspectives of those who make markets, with case studies from the US and the UK. We will also consider historical accounts that highlight both the technological advances and the cultural work that have contributed to the development of the financial system. Considering financial traders as social beings who form communities, we will investigate how traders build trust, assess risk, forge identities, and create distinction (including along lines of race and gender). We will examine practices of calculation and speculation and investigate the role of technologies -- from paper to mathematical formulae to stock tickers and computers -- in shaping those practices. We will also consider shifting definitions of financial success, failure, and corruption in the history of American finance and how traders have attempted to mold public perception of their activities. This course draws on and will introduce you to a range of academic traditions concerned with studying economic actors from a socio-cultural perspective, including: economic sociology, sociology of finance, anthropology, and cultural history.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: participation and oral presentations, three short papers, and a 10-page research proposal
Additional Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: none; open to all
Enrollment Preference: Anthropology and Sociology majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II,Writing Intensive
Other Attributes:
Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 3914
SOC326-01(S) SEM Financial Lives (W) Division 2: Social StudiesWriting Intensive Llerena G. Searle
W 1:10 PM-3:50 PM Griffin 2 3914
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