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Title: Changing the DNA of capitalism
Author: Parkinson, Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 6350 4548
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis develops a 'human economy' approach to understanding economic life that elucidates the social nature of economic reason. It explores deep structural changes in financial capitalism through the emergence of the sustainability paradigm in institutional investment, which involves the integration of environmental and social factors and long-term thinking into mainstream financial corporate valuations. The research is based on an extended-case study through participant-observation with one sustainable investment agency. The company is led by a power figure in sustainable finance and his trusted network of elite actors, who aim to be at the vanguard of the changes in institutional investing as they construct the category of the sustainable investor. The thesis explores the ambiguities inherent to such an undertaking and intends to open up new ground for economic anthropology and the anthropology of finance. The ethnography shows how the investment agency developed from a start-up firm with people operating from their homes to an established organisation in London. The majority of research was conducted with a team of sustainable investment analysts whose role it is to produce ratings on companies and influence the decision-making of financial analysts and portfolio managers. The ethnography depicts the everyday practices of this team, how the material arrangements of the investment agency were constructed, and actors' attempts to develop relationships with financial experts within investment processes. The findings are used to critique institutional investing and comment on normative and policy changes in the industry that centre on the figure of 'the fiduciary'. The thesis also points to new areas for research such as the links between corporate executives and sustainable investors. A historical account of investment management is also presented as a way of deconstructing many of the logics and ideas that were encountered during fieldwork and to better understand where and how sustainable investment fits into mainstream investing. The thesis also offers theoretical and methodological guidance for future ethnographies of finance by positioning the present study with existing sociological and anthropological studies and approaches. The discussion covers the political economy of sustainable investing with an emphasis on the links between market and society and the rise of the large corporation; outlines a framework for studying monetary transactions; and reflects on the nature of agency in financial markets and organisational actors there. A review of ethnographies of finance shows that studies of change within financial market practices should address issues of market functionality and political economy.
Supervisor: Sykes, Karen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Markets ; Sustainable investment ; Economy ; Anthropology of finance ; Ethnography