The Global Financial Class: Global Financial Markets New Forms of Business Culture and Boundary Work

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Lukas HOFSTAETTER, Universität Hamburg, Germany
Marco HOHMANN, Universität Hamburg, Germany
Sighard NECKEL, Universität Hamburg, Germany
In our contribution we develop a theoretical perspective on class formation in the context of global markets and present empirical findings regarding the formation of a global financial class.

While previous approaches to global class formation concentrate either on a managerial elite or on the distribution of income and wealth in the global social structure, our research project focusses on the social interaction on markets as the basis for the formation of a global financial class.

Our research was conducted between 2014 and 2017 in Frankfurt (Germany) and Sydney (Australia). Through a comparative ethnography of the financial centers in both cities and a study of career paths through narrative interviews we show how the social embeddedness of global financial markets produces common forms of economic, social, and cultural capital, a shared world view and habitus.

Corporate cultures are of less importance for the members of the financial class than the connecting culture of the market. It is not the firms that primarily shape the actions of financial professionals, but rather the economic field of global financial markets.

This new social class distinguishes itself not only through specific status symbols, but also through gestures of cultural openness, diversity, and a cosmopolitan presentation of self. These cultural forms enable the financialization of other social spheres. Expansive economic practices of finance correspond with practices of cultural exploitation. A new, seemingly paradox mode of social boundary work emerges: exclusivity through inclusion, closure trough demonstrative openness.