The anthropology of financial intent

Paul Robert Gilbert
Finance and Society, 2017, 3(1): 91-98


Much has been learned about calculation, commodification and marketization from the social studies of markets and finance. But what of capitalization? What is distinctive about this mode of valuation and the reality it impels? What does it mean to live under the ‘asset condition’? In Capitalization: A Cultural Guide, Fabian Muniesa and his colleagues at the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation take us on a tour across multiple continents and several centuries, introducing us to capitalization as a ‘cultural syndrome’. Their pragmatist enquiry involves tracing capitalization via the scenarios in which value is created, and the gaze that stimulates such value-creation. The result is a field guide to the terrain of capitalization that integrates anthropological work on the dramaturgy of finance with sociological attention to the technicalities of valuation. The stage is set for further investigation into the uneven distribution of the capacity to capitalize and its consequences.

Review essay