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2014/2015  BA-BKOMV1060U  Crisis and financial stability: Sociology of Finance and Communication

English Title
Crisis and financial stability: Sociology of Finance and Communication

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Course period Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 50
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, BSc
Course coordinator
  • Ann-Christina Lange - MPP
  • Karl-Heinz Pogner - MSC
Adm. contact: Karina Ravn Nielsen, electives.mpp@cbs.dk or phone 3815 3782
Main academic disciplines
  • Finance
  • Communication
Last updated on 10-04-2014
Learning objectives
At the end of the course, students should be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of financial communication, its knowledge production and social practices (Community of Practice) as well as its discursive practice (Discourse community). Being able to use the “language” of finance and understand complex social theories.
  • The students must show an understanding of the communicative codes practiced within financial institutions.
  • Apply the scientific discourse to analyze cases of financial communication and and discources about crisis and stability
  • Master the theoretical and practical foundations required to understand the performative and cultural aspects of finance
  • Demonstrate skills in evaluating and managing the culture of financial firms
  • Understand the impact of technology and various valuation practices on the financial markets
  • Discover the limits of economic and financial models and the explore the ways they are influenced by financial communication
Course prerequisites
The course is open to undergraduate students. Entry level for non-native English speakers minimum B2 (intermediate).
Prerequisites for registering for the exam
Number of mandatory activities: 1
Requirements about active class participation (assessed approved/not approved)
Active participation in the conference
Synopsis eksam:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Individual
Group synopsis in groups of 4-5 students.
Individual oral exam.
Size of written product Max. 5 pages
Assignment type Synopsis
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period December/January
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure
General definition:
A short written presentation to serve as a basis of an oral examination.
A synopsis is a short written account of a theme/subject, in which the student describes aperspective or a question that forms the basis of a discussion at an oral presentation. By means of this synopsis, the student must create a context that he/she can build on at the
oral examination. A synopsis is thus always followed by an oral examination. Even if this type of assignment is very short, the synopsis must be written in a communicativelyadequate linguistic form. A synopsis should include: A presentation of the generalsubject, identification of the relevant problem and a short account of relevant theory
and/or methodology. The marking is always based on an overall assessment of thewritten and oral performance.
A synopsis can only be part of the following type of exam:
Oral exam based on a written product.
Course content and structure
Since the financial crisis erupted in 2007 the relation between the financial industry and its communication strategies have been critically examined. This course focuses on institutional, organizational, social, and societal structures of the contemporary financial system. It traces the evolution of the financial system since the New Deal settlements, including "deregulation," securitization, and the growing reliance on mathematical modeling. It tracks the changing role and significance of the financial system and it communicative codes, examining the sources and impact of crisis and stability. And it considers how financial communication as social and organizational practice executed within Wall Street, too-big-to-fail institutions and money center banking shape financial markets.  

The course provides an introduction to some of the basic principles of international financial technologies combined with sociological accounts of organization and culture in financial systems.
Key topics:
Bank culture after the credit crisis; Models as self-fulfilling prophecies; Financial Information technologies; Media and communication; Crisis and Stability.
Teaching methods
Mainly lectures and short exercises combined with workshops focusing on the written product (synopsis) and a conference with guest lecturers from academia and representatives from the financial and communication industry.
Student workload
8 weeks x 3 lessons 24 hours
2 workshops (4 lessons) 8 hours
1 conference 6 hours
prep for lectures / exercises 48 hours
prep for workshops 16 hours
prep for konference 12 hours
exam (synopsis) incl. prep 25 hours
exam (oral exam) incl. prep 70 hours
Further Information
Changes in course schedule may occur.
Thursday 11.40-14.15, week 36-41, 43-48.
Expected literature
Articles will be provided in a compendium.
We also use 2 textbboks.

A reader (compendium) with seminal and specific articles will be produced.

Textbook 1: Introduction to financial technology’ by Roy S.  Freedman (introduces financial technology and communication at a very basic level).  

Textbook 2: Chapters from “Theorizing crisis communication” by Sellnow, Timothy L. and Matthew W. Seeger (give an introduction to crisis communication theories).
NB Textbook Book 2 is available in an e-book version at CBS library.

1. Introduction

Freedman, R. (2006): ‘What is Financial Technology?’ in Introduction to Financial Technology, Freedman, R. (chapter 1), pp. 1-28, Academic Press.
Combs, T. (2010): ‘Parameters for Crisis Communication’ in The Handbook of Crisis Communication, Coombs, T., Sherry, H. (eds.), pp. 17-54), Wiley-Blackwell.  
2. Financial Communication and the Credit Crisis
Sellnow, T., Seeger, M. (2010): ‘Theories of Communication and Crisis Outcome’ in Theorizing Crisis Communication, Sellnow, T., Seeger, M., (Chapter 4), Wiley-Blackwell.

Tett, G. (2010): ‘Silos and silences- Why so few people spotted the problems in complex credit and what that implies for the future’, in Financial Stability Review, No.14–Derivatives–Financial innovation and stability.
2. Financial Instruments and its Culture
Tett, G. (2009): Fool's Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe’ (Chapter 6), Abacus
MacKenzie, D. (2009) ‘ Beneath all the toxic acronyms lies a basic cultural issue’.  Article in the Financial Times
Sellnow, T., Seeger, M. (2010): ‘Theories of Communication and Mediated Crisis’ in Theorizing Crisis Communication, Sellnow, T., Seeger, M., (Chapter 4), Wiley-Blackwell.

3. Performativity Theory and Financial Models
Mackenzie, D. (2006): ‘Performing Theory’ in An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets, chapter 1 pp. 1-36, The MIT Press.
Freedman, R. (2006): ‘Prices, Interest, Time’, in Introduction to Financial Technology, Freedman, R. (chapter 2), pp. 29-70, Academic Press.
4. Finance, Emotions and Credit Rating Agencies
Pixley, J. (2002): Finance organizations, decisions and emotions, British Journal of Sociology Vol. No. 53 Issue No. 1, pp. 41–65

MacKenzie, D. (2000): ‘Fear in the Markets: the ways in which ‘finance theory’ becomes part of what it examines’ in London Review of Books.

5. Trading strategies and information technologies
Freedman, R. (2006): ‘Physical aspects of Financial Networks’ in Introduction to Financial Technology, Freedman, R. (chapter 6), pp. 189-232, Academic Press.
Preda, A. (2006): ‘Socio-Technical Agency in Financial Markets -The Case of the Stock Ticker’ in Social Studies of Science, vol. 36 no. 5 pp. 753-782

6. Valuation and communicative codes
Eposito, E. (2013): ‘Economic Circularities and Second-Order Observation: The Reality of Ratings’ in Sociologica, N. 2.
Freedman, R. (2006): ‘Orders and Messages’ in Introduction to Financial Technology, Freedman, R. (chapter 7), pp. 233-272, Academic Press.
7. Evaluation Cultures in Finance
Ho, K. (2009). Disciplining Investment Bankers, Disciplining the Economy: Wall Street's Institutional Culture of Crisis and the Downsizing of “Corporate America”. American Anthropologist, 111: 177–189.
MacKenzie, D. (2011). Evaluation Cultures? On Invoking ‘Culture’ in the Analysis of Behaviour in Financial Markets.
8. Algorithms and Computerised Communication
Beunza, Daniel & Millo, Yuval (2013) ‘Folding: Integrating Algorithms into the Floor of the New York Stock Exchange’, paper presented at the Sociology of Market Microstructure Workshop (The New York Stock Exchange, August 9th, 2013).
Freedman, R. (2006): ‘Algorithms and Financial Technology’, in Introduction to Financial Technology, Freedman, R. (chapter 3), pp. 71-103, Academic Press.
MacKenzie, D. (2011): ‘How to Make Money in Microseconds: Algo-Sniffing’ in  London Review of Books.
Workshop 1:Discourse communities and Communities of practice
Pogner, K. (2012): A social perspective on writing in the workplace: Communities of Dicourse (CD) and Communities of Practice (CoP). In Rothkegel, Annely & Sonja Ruda (eds.): Communication on and via technology. Berin & Boston: De Gruyter Mouton
Workshop 2:Synopsis:
Last updated on 10-04-2014