Does performativity matter?
Seminar with Jakob Arnoldi
Abstract of paper presented: We undertake a critique of the performativity thesis as it has been developed by social scientists studying finance and economics. As the performativity concept remains an element in Actor Network Theory (ANT), we also discuss ANT applied to the study of economics and finance.
The first part of the article investigates merits of the performativty thesis by applying it to empirical data on the use of models in different financial markets. We conclude that there is little support for the idea of the strongest kind of performativty – Barnesian performativity.
We then proceed to investigate ideas of weaker forms of performativity. We suggest that the role of financial know-how is rather less direct and powerful than concepts such as performativity and agancement could lead one to believe and search for the explanation of this phenomenon in alternative theoretical concepts.
Based on this we find shortcomings in the performativity thesis which we elucidate by investigating some of the theoretical premises upon which the performativity thesis has been formulated, namely the speech act theory of Austin and in particular the adaptation of Austin’s theory by Barnes (and also Bourdieu).
Jakob Arnoldi is Professor at Department of Management, Aarhus School of Business.
The organizing markets group at Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School.