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Evaluation Practices in Financial Markets (EPIFM)
Start date: Sep 1, 2012, End date: Aug 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

EPIFM will be a social-science (rather than, as conventionally, an economic) investigation, by a team bridging science and technology studies (STS), sociology and politics, of how professional participants in financial markets evaluate financial instruments such as shares and bonds. These evaluation practices are crucial to the operation of financial markets (they help determine the activities to which investment capital does and does not flow, and for example played a key role in the genesis of the credit crisis), but surprisingly little is known about them.EPIFM will study evaluation practices in depth and in their technological and institutional contexts. It will examine differences amongst how different groups of market practitioners conduct evaluation (including patterned differences that we conceptualise provisionally as ‘evaluation cultures’) and will investigate the factors that shape evaluation practices, factors that we expect to include technological change, organisational processes, external regulation and the articulation between monetary evaluation and other ‘orders of worth’. EPIFM’s methodology will predominantly be qualitative, including semi-structured interviewing, fieldwork at finance-industry conferences and training courses, documentary analysis, and – where possible – direct observation of practices. Amongst the phenomena EPIFM will investigate is automated trading, in which evaluation, buying and selling are delegated to (usually ultrafast) computer systems operating without direct human intervention.By achieving its objectives of understanding the patterning and the shaping of evaluation practices, EPIFM will foster the exciting new specialism of ‘social studies of finance’ and encourage a much-needed broadening and deepening of social-science research on financial markets.
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