Back in the bazaar: taking Pierre Bourdieu to a trading room
Journal of Cultural Economy
410 - 429 p.
Finance, Rationality, Field theory, Habitus, Class
Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's theory of aesthetic judgment, this text offers an inductive account of financial reasoning inside a trading room. Driven to maximise bank profits, trading room operators do not find ‘one best way’. Rather they choose among several possible winning strategies: mathematical arbitrage, economic analysis, chartist analysis. These strategies differ sharply from one another in their conception of the market, method, proximity to scholarly knowledge, and legitimacy. We show that the choice of one method depends on a system of tastes and distastes that are both historical – depending on individuals’ social and educational background – and relational – depending on the individual's relative position within the trading room viewed as a field.