Producing Economic Knowledge: An Ethnography of Newsrooms in Brazil

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Tomas UNDURRAGA , Research Associate University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Chile
Producing economic knowledge: an ethnography of newsrooms in Brazil


In line with recent ethnographic research concerned to shed light on knowledge production in advertising agencies (Ariztia, 2013), trade floors (Beunza & Stark, 2010) and news agencies (Boyer 2011), this investigation considers the newsroom as site of economic knowledge production in Brazil. In particular, this paper presents the early results of a multi-site ethnography of economic news production in the mass media in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in 2013. It draws from more than fifty interviews with economic journalists, media commentators and economists, as well as from participatory observations of journalistic practices within newsrooms. The paper looks at how relationships – both competitive and collaborative – between the following four entities help create economic knowledge, and how this knowledge interacts with the generation of news. The entities in question are: 1) people (individual actors and groups, e.g. journalists, economists, commentators, editors, etc.); 2) non-human instruments (devices, models, rankings); 3) structures (classes, professions) and 4) networks (relationships between actors, instruments, structures). The paper pays special attention to how news about the economy is constructed and circulated, and how this news in turn draws upon, contests, and helps to produce economic knowledge. This research forms part of the ERC funded ECONPUBLIC project, which study how the ideas about the economy have been produced in the mass media in the UK, US, France, Argentina and Brazil in the post-war period. http://www.econpublic.hps.cam.ac.uk