2014년 9월 27일 토요일

[발췌: A.B. Cox's] Making Markets and Constructing Crises: A Review of Ho's 'Liquidated'

출처: Alexandra B. Cox (2012). The Qualitative Report  2012 Volume 17, Review 6, 1-4


※ 발췌 (excerpts): 

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In her dissertation-turned-book, ^Liquidated: An Enthnography of Wall Street^ (2009), anthropologist Karen Ho describes the culture of Wall Street from an insider's perspective. Aster being recruited from Princeton and employed at the prestigious global investment fir Banker's Trust(BT), Ho developed a unique sense of what being a part of Wall Street meant. ( ... ) Through in-depth interviews with all levels of Wall Street employees, from entry-level analysts to senior managing directors and from front-office players to back-office support staff, Ho explores the omnipresent practice of downsizing and constant corporate liquidation experienced─and perpetuated─by these individuals and their Wall Street colleagues. She launched her personal experience into a full ethnographic research study in attempt to answer the question, " How do Wall Street investment bankers actively ^make markets^─that is, produce the dominant sensibilities of the stock market and Wall Street financial norms through their daily cultural practices?" (Ho, 2009, p. 4). In seven robust chapters and over one hundred detailed and transcribed interviews, Ho interrogates the culture of Wall Street and debunks the market as an elusive concept. Her rigorous qualitative research methods and sheer volume of data convincingly demonstrate a market that mimics the personalities, egos, and practices of the Wall Street investment bankers themselves, and her analysis makes the case for how these individuals have created a financial environment that shapes the way corporate America operates, the way the global economy functions, and even the way individuals live.

Ho (2009) introduces her text by justifying her choice to study Wall Street ethnographically and sets the stage for her data presentation and analysis throughout the book. Rejecting the “widespread conception of capitalist globalization as an abstract metanarrative and homogenizing force too unwieldy for ethnographic translation” (Ho, 2009, p. 5), she examines the values and practices of investment banks that have influenced the restructuring of U.S. corporations and have thus led to financial market booms and busts. She seeks to capture data that describes, demonstrates, and explains “what kinds of experiences and ideologies shaped investment banker actions, how they were empowered to make these shifts [from stable to unstable capitalism], and how these changes were enacted and understood to be righteous” (Ho, 2009, p. 5) through field work at iconic Wall Street investment banking firms such as Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. ( ... ) In her words, she “designed a methodology that combined immersion with movement, broad enough to access Wall Street worldviews and practices, yet particular enough to understand how such norms were constituted on a daily basis within particular institutions” (Ho, 2009, pp. 18-19). Therefore, Ho is able to acclimate to and thoroughly understand the environment in her study, as well as represent the experiences of her many informants as she explores the culture of Wall Street.

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Central to Wall Street’s construction of its own superiority is the corollary assumption that the other corporations and industries are “less than” – less smart, less efficient, less competitive, less global, less hardworking – and thus less likely to survive the demands of global capitalism unless they restructure their cultural values and practices according to the standards of Wall Street (Ho, 2009, p. 57). Thus, Wall Street’s influence on corporate America and other global firms begins with the new hires they recruit from the nation’s top institutions; according to the firms, by hiring the smartest, most ambitious young people in the country, the manners in which they operate professionally must be the best.

( ... ) Through her interviews and observations, she uncovers seemingly contradictory events between the moral blueprint of shareholder value espoused by investment bankers and their enactment of bad deals, poor strategies, and long term financial busts. ( ... ) Because of their constant job insecurity and the culture of downsizing created by Wall Street firms, Ho proposes that instead of a model of shareholder value, what is really produced and perpetuated by the market is a sense of “the ultimate ‘liquid’ employee” (Ho, 2009, p. 252). She explains, “Wall Street approaches to compensation not only solidify job insecurity but also engender a relentless deal-making frenzy with no future orientation, which in turn sets in motion…[the] imposition of investment banking models of employee liquidity onto corporate America” (Ho, 2009, p. 252). ( ... ) She convincingly demonstrates throughout the text that the ideologies of the investment bankers manifest themselves in Wall Street structures and practices, ultimately leveraging their superiority to become dominant in the global market. These structures and practices – “broken promises, failed shareholder value, and the mining of capital without replenishing it” (Ho, 2009, p. 324) – ultimately led to the most recent economic crisis.

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