Class formation in the global field of finance: a comparative study of Frankfurt and Sydney
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 19:57 authored by Lukas Hofstätter
This thesis investigates whether professionals on the global financial markets, such as investment bankers, traders, and analysts, form a global social class. Over recent decades, rising inequality has reinvigorated interest in issues of class. Despite the experience of world-wide economic crises demonstrating the global reach of the contemporary economy, the research areas of globalisation and class remain surprisingly disengaged from each other. Especially the question of global class formation continues to be underexplored. The first part of this thesis examines why the issue of globalisation remains a niche within research on class. Therefore, the theoretical foundations of the dominant approaches to class are investigated, identifying the causes for the implicit “methodological nationalism” of modern mainstream class analysis in the underlying theories of the economy and social action. Vice versa,an examination of globalisation theory shows that similar obstacles persist in the theoretical reasoning on inequality from a global perspective, precluding a conceptualisation of global class formation. In dialogue with the few existing approaches to conceptualize class on a global level, a framework for the study of global class formation based on Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of social fields is developed. In part two of the thesis this framework is employed to examine empirically whether the global field of finance is currently the source for the formation of a global financial class. The field of finance as the most globalised economic sector is a paradigmatic case for studying the formation of a global class. This interview study on the career trajectories of financial professionals from Frankfurt and Sydney uncovers that, despite the legacy of national economic specificities on the institutional level, financial actors draw in their social praxis on global forms of social, cultural and economic capital and have developed a common culture, worldview, praxis, and habitus, delineating the formation of a global financial class.