Handbook of Financialization: Table of Contents Now Available!

We’re delighted to share publicly (for the first time) the Table of Contents of the forthcoming International Handbook of Financialization (Routledge 2019)!

Thanks to the great many positive responses, which exceeded even our highest expectations, a superb group of scholars has come together to make the forthcoming Handbook an already widely-anticipated success.

Please note that this table of contents may be subject to some changes before the anticipated publication date in early 2019.

Phil, Daniel & Natascha

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TABLE OF CONTENTS (as of July 2018)

 

1. Phil Mader, Daniel Mertens & Natascha van der Zwan: Introduction

 

Part A – Finance and Financialization: Taking Stock

2. Brett Christophers & Ben Fine: The Value of Financialization and the Financialization of Value

3. Christoph Deutschmann: The Socio-Economic Foundations of Financialization

4. Sheila Dow: Financialization and the Monetary Authorities: Post-Keynesian and Other Perspectives

5. Paul Langley: The Financialization of Life

6. Ismail Erturk: (title TBC)

 

Part B – Approaches to Studying Financialization

7. Ève Chiapello: Financialization as a Socio-technical Question

8. Samuel Knafo & Mareike Beck: Financialization and the Uses of History

9. Stefano Pagliari & Kevin Young: How is Financialization Reproduced Politically?

10. Dimitris Sotiropoulos & Ariane Hillig: Financialization in Heterodox Economics

11. Hadas Weiss: The Anthropological Study of Financialization

 

Part C – Structures, Spaces and Sites of Financialization

12. Manuel Aalbers, Rodrigo Fernandez & Gertjan Wijburg: The Financialization of Real Estate

13. Sarah Bracking: Financialization and the Environmental Frontier

14. Bruno Bonizzi, Annina Kaltenbrunner & Jeff Powell: Subordinate Financialization in Emerging Capitalist Economies

15. Rodrigo Fernandez & Reijer Hendrikse: Offshore Finance

16. Ewa Karwowski: Variegated Financialization in the Global South

17. Engelbert Stockhammer & Karsten Köhler: Financialization and Demand Regimes in Advanced Economies

18. Yingyao Wang: The State and Financialization

19. Brigitte Young: Financialization and Gendered Inequality

 

Part D – Actors, Agency, and Politics of Financialization

20. Benjamin Braun & Daniela Gabor: Central Banking, Shadow Banking, and Infrastructural Power

21. Jan Fichtner: The Rise of Institutional Investors

22. Felipe Gonzalez: Household Debt and the “Retailisation” of Finance

23. Brooke Harrington: Trusts and Financialization

24. Johannes Petry: Exchanges and Financialization: From Marketplaces to Agents

25. Dennis Stolz & Karen Lai: Philanthrocapitalism, Social Enterprises and Global Development

26. Lena Lavinas: The Collateralization of Social Policy in the Global South

27. Lisa Adkins, Kavita Datta & Vincent Guermond, Michael McCarthy, Paul Thompson & Jean Cushen: DISCUSSION FORUM on Labor and Financialization

 

Part E – Techniques, Technologies, and Cultures of Financialization

28. Rob Aitken: The Cultural Economy of Financial Subjectivity

29. Nathan Coombs & Arjen van der Heide: The Calculative and Regulatory Consequences of Risk Management

30. Laura Deruytter & Sebastian Möller: Financialized Practices and Rationalities of Local Authorities

31. Max Haiven: Culture and Financialization: Five Approaches

32. Jeanne Lazarus: Financial Literacy Education: A Questionable Answer to the Financialization of Everyday Life

33. Johnna Montgomerie: Debt Dependence and the Financialization of Everyday Life

 

Part F – Instabilities, Insecurities, and the Discontents of Financialization

34. Gerald Epstein: The Bankers’ Club and the Financialization of Crises

35. Beat Weber: (title TBC)

36. Andreas Nölke: Financialization and the Crisis of Democracy

37. Sunanda Sen: Uncertainty and Financialization

38. Matthias Thiemann: Why is There No Anti-Cyclical Regulation of Finance?

39. Christina Laskaridis, Nathan Legrand & Eric Toussaint: Struggles against Illegitimate Debt

40. Olivier Godechot: Financialization and the Increase in Inequality

 

Epilogue (TBC)

 

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FGGA Research Publication

FGGA5I am very honored to be one of twelve academics from the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs to have been featured in this new publication. Fast forward to page 58 to find out why pensions aren´t boring and why do-it-yourself-pensions are a bad idea. Or scroll down to read the full interview below. 

Pension schemes? Bóóóring! At least, that’s what lots of  people think, but not Natascha van der Zwan. On the contrary, the assistant professor and political scientist is fascinated by the subject. She compares pension systems in various countries (in historical perspective) and reflects on the way they work out for citizens. ‘Saving for later on an individual basis? That will widen the gap between rich and poor.’

Pensions are as old as time, says Natascha van der Zwan. ‘In Roman days, for instance, it was already common that the state (if one can use that term) rewarded veterans for their services with a “pension provision”, a piece of land. In The Netherlands, the first pension schemes came into being in the early 19th century. Strikingly enough, they were also, at first, meant for veterans, and for civil servants. The government provided a favor, a token of appreciation from the king to people who had distinguished themselves in government service. Soon, however, those provisions were expanded to another category of pensioners:  widows and orphans. Based on the idea that one should protect families without a breadwinner from further misery.

Over the course of the 19th century pension rights were extended to other groups, and the execution of those rights sided more and more with employers. Around the turn of the century , a number of big firms already provided their workers with a pension. Still as a favor, not as a right. And actually this is still the case today. In The Netherlands we have two kinds of “pension”: a state allowance at a fixed level, to which every citizen is entitled (the “AOW”). And a supplementary pension, as a rule managed by pension funds or insurance companies and paid for by employers and employees during the course of their working life. Agreements on contributions are part of the terms of employment.  Logical, as pension is in fact deferred wage: a form of salary that’s only paid after some time. ‘It’s typical for The Netherlands that management and labour organisations decide together on pension rights, often through collective labour agreements.’

Public Pensions

Van der Zwan is working on a historical study comparing pensions schemes in Germany, the United States and The Netherlands. ‘In Germany a public pension (provided by the state) was introduced  in the late 19th century. Private companies were not involved in this scheme. Even today, the government plays a leading role in pension provisions and pension funds are therefore less common in Germany than in the Netherlands. The country relies on the state pension, paid for by premiums. Current employees provide for current pensioners. But if more people retire and fewer people have a job, you’re in for a huge problem. Either workers pay more, or the government has to supplement.’

In the United States the ball lies in the employees’ court. Companies are not obliged to offer any form of pension, and usually they don’t – many people  rely on their own savings. Didn’t labour unions try to change this situation? Of course, and in the seventies the American unions were a force to be reckoned with. But their influence dwindled. They simply lost the battle.’

Do-It-Yourself-Pension

In the Netherlands, the question if the pension system should be scrapped is the subject of heated debate. ‘Not for the first time’, says Van der Zwan. ‘In the nineties, politicians were already questioning the current system. Employees, they argued, should be more at liberty to spend or invest their deferred wages as they saw fit. But time was not ripe for this yet. This only changed when the consequences of the financial crisis became noticeable. People were dissatisfied and new ideas gained ground. And what about Germany and the US? Of course, they also feel the pressure of economic circumstances and an aging population. These countries advocate making pension provisions less voluntary, along the lines of the Dutch system.’

Van der Zwan herself is critical  of the new pension ideas. ‘We know from the scientific literature: voluntary systems do not work. People don’t save, they postpone saving, or and only consider the short term. Or they have just managed to fill their pension pot when they are confronted with higher care costs. There goes their pension!’

‘There are people who say that we have become too dependent on government provisions, and that they cost too much. I am not one of those people. We know that the “do-it-yourself-pension” can make citizens very insecure, as well as leading to more inequality between those who have sufficient knowledge, discipline and responsibility to save for later, and those who haven’t. A voluntary system will widen the gap between rich and poor, between people who’ll have all their eggs in their basket, and those who’ll lose out.’

Text by Andrea Hijmans

FGGA2

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Valueworks Workshop

I am very excited to be participating in the workshop on “Making Sense of the Copper Value Chain: Mapping the conceptual landscape of the anthropology of extraction in the context of financialization” at the University of Zurich over the next few days. The workshop is part of the Valueworks project on the effects of financialization along the copper value chain (project coordinators: Rita Kesselring and Stefan Leins). Read more about this project here. In my presentation, I will revisit some of the arguments made in my 2014 article “Making Sense of Financialization” (Socio-Economic Review) and suggest new avenues for future research on financialization.

IMG_20180523_212202_564

 

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Fellowship at NIAS

IMG_20180418_102536168

I am very pleased to announce that I have been awarded an Instituut Gak Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences. I will be joining the NIAS in Amsterdam from early September 2018 until the end of January 2019. While at NIAS, I will be completing my book manuscript on the financialization of the Dutch pension system.

From my proposal: The project is a historical political economy of the Dutch pension system that investigates how the mutually constitutive relationship between the welfare state and the financial system shaped its development. Despite the international prominence of this case in academic scholarship and policy circles, a historical account of the Dutch pension system that integrates the study of social and financial policy has not yet been written. Five case studies of selected historical episodes from the early 20th century to the current period show how state, business and labor actors sometimes opposed, sometimes advanced financial development in order to achieve their social policy goals. This historical account of the Dutch pension system advances theoretical understandings of financialization in relation to the welfare state. The United States and Germany serve as shadow cases. Evidence is collected from national and international historical archives. The fellowship period would be used for the final write-up of the manuscript.

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Lost and Found

When we designed our RM course, we very consciously included modules on finding primary and secondary sources. Of course, our students should already possess these skills. Nonetheless, we were often still surprised to read papers in which a student had missed a major author on a topic of interest or had used a wildly unreliable source as evidentiary basis for a research paper. While it’s quite easy for a university teacher to be appalled at reading such omissions or errors, we figured it would probably be more productive to offer students a refresher course in how to find high-quality and relevant primary and secondary sources.

Developing this curriculum meant also increasing our own understanding of how the current generation of students use the vast amount of online resources that are at our disposal. As someone who was introduced to the internet somewhat later in life (by which I mean, as a teenager) than my students were, I will find and use sources for my research in a much different way than many of my students – something I did not fully understand until watching videos like these. It’s a point that is also central to Andrew Abbott’s wonderful book Digital Paper, which translates the old skill of locating books in a brick-and-mortar library to the online environments in which we often work today. Celebrating the antiquated pastime of browsing through library stacks without being snobby or nostalgic about it, the book offers very practical advice on how to locate and use online resources. It’s a great book and I often assign chapters from it in my courses. It also shaped the development of some of the assignments I currently teach in Research Methods, one of which I will describe below.

longleat-maze

Credit: Niki Odolphie from Frome, England (Longleat Maze) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

As part of the workshop for our module on “Working with documents,” students need to carry out an in-class assignment. The assignment is a simple one: go online and find primary sources that will help you write a research paper on a historic event. The students can find actual primary sources online or they may find the location of where these sources are kept (e.g. a historical archive). Seems easy, right? Here comes the catch: the historic event the students need to research predates the internet, reducing the odds that actual digital primary sources will be available. During the last few workshops, for instance, I chose the 1909 shirtwaist workers’ strike in New York City as topic for this assignment.

Students will need to do a focused search, using specialized search engines and databases to find the sources they need for this assignment. I don’t share this information with the students beforehand. After explaining the assignment, I give students some time (15 minutes or so) to find anything they deem relevant. I walk around the classroom, often a computer lab, looking at the students’ computer screens to see what they are searching for and how. The typical search looks something like this:

  1. The student googles the strike and reads basic information on Wikipedia.
  2. The student uses the university library’s catalogue and/or Google Scholar to search for secondary sources on the historic event.
  3. The student googles “skirtwaist workers’ strike 1909 sources” and checks the first few pages that come up.

This is a completely reasonable search strategy when your instructor confronts you with a historic event you have never heard of, you quickly need to find material related to this event, and you have no idea where to start. I do exactly the same when, for instance, I am asked to teach about a topic I know very little about (this happens sometimes unfortunately). The problem is that this search strategy very rarely results in sources, primary or secondary, that are relevant and reliable. In the case of the skirtwaist workers’ strike, for instance, most students will find a few photographs taken during the strike, a diary entry, and perhaps a New York Times article or two, but not enough sources to write an in-depth case study on the event.

ladies_tailors_strikers
Credit: Bain News Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Students generally reach this conclusion themselves. After their initial search, we discuss their findings with the entire group. I ask the students not only what they have found, but also how they found it. Since I have observed them doing the assignment, I can call on specific people to share specific search strategies. After discussing a few of these strategies, an inevitable question is raised: what could we have done better? We then spend the following 30 minutes or so discussing the alternatives. Often there is a student present during the workshop who has made good use of specialized databases. I often ask that student to show the others what they could have done better. On other occasions, I do this myself.

The central message of the assignment is this: 1) know which databases are available to use, for which purpose and what their limitations are; 2) know how to work with them. The graduate students in our program (a MSc in Public Administration) will be most familiar with LexisNexis, because it stores Dutch newspaper articles from the 1990s until today. Since our program is international in orientation and courses are taught in English, LexisNexis will not be of help for many of the cases we study. I therefore also make sure to mention other databases that Dutch students are often less familiar with, such as Delpher, ProQuest Historical or Factiva. Finally, we use WorldCat to locate archival collections around the world.

By the time students leave the workshop, we will have discussed a number of ways in which they could have found primary sources on the 1909 shirtwaist workers’ strike. I often carry out these searches on the instructor computer in the lab, which is connected to a projector and thus allows students to follow along. After the workshop, students need to repeat the skills we have practiced in class as part of a graded assignment.

While the in-class exercise has certainly been very useful to serve as a refresher course on one of the most basic academic skills students need to possess, it has also been incredibly useful for me as the course instructor. Seeing in class what students normally do at home has helped me better understand why some research papers draw ‘evidence’ from unreliable websites or grey literature and why others do not. It made me realize that simply dismissing students who produce such work as ‘incapable’ is doing them injustice. Ultimately, this is about habits and not about capacities, and that is something I can help them with.

If you would like to read more about this in-class exercise or use it for your courses, click here.

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Full Blog Series Now Online

The final blog in our series on Flipping the Research Methods classroom is now online at activelearningps.com! We saved the best for last: what did students think of our new blended learning course? Find out here or read the entire series of blogs heresalto_ornamental_-_unbBy Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil [CC BY 3.0 br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Interview Bingo

One of the biggest challenges in higher education is getting students to actively participate during class time, especially in larger groups. The traditional lecture format simply does not lend itself well for this. Luckily, there are plenty of other teaching techniques that not only motivate students to participate actively during class, but also ensure that the quality of participation increases. As a former quiet student myself, I find it important that class participation does not simply involve giving the loudest students a platform to comment on the course material. Instead, it should give all students the tools to find their voice and use it during class.

For that reason, I love doing fishbowl discussions during my classes. A fishbowl is a different way of organizing a debate. Students are divided into two concentric circles: a small group of students takes place in an inner circle, while the remainder of the class forms an outer circle around them. The students in the inner circle – within the fishbowl, if you will – take part in the discussion. The students in the outer circle observe the discussion and take note of what happens. After a few minutes, the course instructor halts the discussion in the inner circle and asks the observing students to reflect on what happened.  This way, even students who are not speaking are involved in the discussion. Several variations of the fishbowl discussion also exist.

Having used fishbowl discussion for various purposes in my courses over the years, I recently decided to do one in my Research Methods course. This course is part of the flipped classroom that I have written about here. With the lecture part of the course taking place online, it is even more important that class time is being spent in an active manner. For this reason, I decided to combine a fishbowl discussion with a mock interview for the workshop on qualitative interviewing.

This is how it worked: before coming to class, all students had to prepare a list of interview questions on a given topic. The type of respondent was also given. So in one workshop, students were to interview a fictional senior bureaucrat on government budget cutbacks, while in another workshop the mock interview was held with a fictional citizen on tax evasion. During the workshop, two volunteers played out the interview inside “the fishbowl”. The other students observed. To structure their observations, I had made bingo cards with a number of good and bad interviewing practices, using this website . Each time the students observed something from their bingo cards, they crossed off that box – until somebody had bingo of course!

Bingo Picture

At that point, we would halt the mock interview and have the student calling bingo comment on the observations he/she made and what had been missing from the interview. After a brief discussion, we would continue the interview with a new interviewer and interviewee. With the first round covering the beginning of the interview to approximately the half-way point and the second round picking up where we had left off until the end of the conversation, we were able to cover a full interview from start to finish.

Having taught this exercise a number of times now, I have found that it has consistently led to interesting observations and discussions, especially when students disagree on what they had observed!* It has also served the original purpose of the fishbowl exercise by allowing those students, who feel uncomfortable being at the center of attention in the classroom, to actively participate in the mock interview. For this reason, interview bingo has become a standard feature of my interviewing workshop. If you would like to try interview bingo for yourself, feel free to use this link to download the bingo cards (simply click on the bingo card shown to download a pdf-file).

*It should be added that the stakes are high: in the Netherlands, it is customary for the person who erroneously calls bingo to sing a song of choice as penalty 😊.

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