Financial Trading for the Masses: An Ethnographic Study of Independent Israeli Day-Traders

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Galit AILON , Sociology & Anthropology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Sociologists and anthropologists of finance have noted the development of a mass financial culture that is marked by a widespread involvement in and a popular infatuation with financial markets. Most ethnographic studies on the topic have nevertheless focused on financial professionals and elites. This focus is problematic and can only constitute a partial depiction of financial market cultures which have spread far beyond the bounds of professional contexts and elite networks. Presenting data from an ethnographic study of the day-to-day lives of independent, non-professional Israeli online day-traders, this study explores the complex set of cultural orientations which inform and shape these traders' understandings of financial trading, their beliefs about and imageries of the market and market processes, and their experiences with speculation. Relying on in-depth interviews, offline and online fieldwork in sites such as trading courses for the general public and financial blogs, forums, and internet trading rooms, the paper maps out the terrain of popular, online day-trading in this context. Moreover, it discusses the types of self- and social-awareness that are implicated by the traders' speculative enchantments and financial dealings and preoccupations. It shows how market outcomes become a form of self-reflexive grammar through which the traders define and experience expertise, maturity, and personal weakness. Moreover, it unravels the paradoxical ways in which these market outcomes are simultaneously endowed with and deprived of social meaning and significance for the traders.