The Meaning of National Identity in Global Financial Trading: The Case of Day-Traders in Israel

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Galit AILON , Sociology & Anthropology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Over the past three decades Israel has adopted a series of neoliberal financial reforms in the context of which many have become actively involved in financial markets. This study explores the cultural orientations that shape and that are shaped by actual engagements in these markets. It presents data from an ethnographic study of the day-to-day lives of independent Israeli day-traders who pursue global online financial trading. Relying upon in-depth interviews, offline and online fieldwork in sites such as trading courses and financial forums, blogs, and internet trading rooms, the paper explores three interrelated questions: how are notions of national identity (re-)constituted by the discourse on global financial trading? How do the traders make sense of and experience the globality of the market? And what meanings do they attribute to nationality within the market? The findings indicate the traders' sense of a meritocratic "freedom" from the symbolic baggage of national (and other) identities: their sense of global finance as a field of economic activity where one's success is not dependent upon the politics of identity that is characteristic of global organizational contexts and paid work. Nevertheless, while in this sense losing significant symbolic weight as a marker of personal and social identity, national identity figures heavily in traders' abstract, calculative evaluations of the value of financial assets and markets. The paper discusses the implications of this aspect of the financial and calculative reconstitution of the meaning of national identity within the global, computerized networks for our understanding of the impact of financial globalization on national imageries, cross-cultural perceptions, and "glocal" market cultures.