Financial Regulation

Authored by: Nathan Coombs

The Routledge Handbook of Critical Finance Studies

Print publication date:  September  2020
Online publication date:  September  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138079816
eBook ISBN: 9781315114255
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter makes the case for a social studies of financial regulation taking inspiration from science and technology studies. Acknowledging that the regulatory field poses challenges for ethnographic and qualitative research, the chapter presents three methodological lessons to help guide scholarship in this area. First, listen to the actors. While it is tempting to adopt a hermeneutics of suspicion when interpreting the actions and statements of financial regulators, there is more to gain by understanding the practical metaphysics of their work. Second, models matter. It is a well-established principle in finance studies that it is worth attending to non-human “actors.” However, following the evolution of modeling and evaluation practices at the regulatory level can loosen up overly rigid categorical distinctions between public and private governance. Third, discover the macro in the micro. Just as the social studies of finance has succeeded in identifying short circuits between technical details and legal minutia with large-scale infrastructural developments, so too should the social studies of financial regulation remain open to interactions within and across a multitude of different “scales.”

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