The Anomie of the World of Finance

Lecture by Henrik Kreutz
June 26th, 2012

The changes in the financial markets have offered unimagined possibilities for individual and collective actors – »rational egoists« – with dramatic economic and social effects. The crises in Greece and Spain give recent examples. New forms of investment can be observed in the cultural fields as well. Super rich collectors based in the financial field are able to invest up to one billion dollars into works of art within a few years, a development that the notion of a »financialization of art« refers to.

The lecture of Henrik Kreutz is based on three case studies critically exploring financial institutions and agents acting autonomously. One of these studies addresses the strategies of a leading investment bank, Goldman & Sachs, to which it is ascribed to have had prepared speculative attacks towards the European Union, where Greece functioned as a trigger. Furthermore, the practices of powerful individual market players will be analysed, like those of András Simor (President of the Hungarian National Bank), or those of a well-known investor (George Soros), who also has been able to intervene in the field of art. The case of rating agencies and their disregard for scientific premises will be examined in this context as well. Deriving from these case studies some theoretical, methodological and political conclusions regarding financial markets will be deduced.

Henrik Kreutz is professor emeritus for sociology. He has taught at the Universities of Vienna, Hannover, Hamburg, and Budapest amongst others. He is one of the leading representatives of »Pragmatic Sociology«, based on Charles S. Peirce. From 1981 to 2007 he held the Chair of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. His main research areas are theoretical sociology, cultural sociology, as well as economic and financial sociology. He is the editor of the journal »Angewandte Sozialforschung«.