Carbon capital: the lexicon and allegories of US hydrocarbon finance

Sean Field*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with energy financiers in Houston, Texas, this paper explores how experts use a lexicon of models and metrics to conceptualize and construct allegories about future hydrocarbon projects and companies. I show that allegorical narratives built with this lexicon advance a kind of energy ethics – distinguishing what is good and advocating for particular hydrocarbon futures. As the energy industry pivots toward renewables, I conclude that these metrics, models and allegories are coming to bear on new forms of extraction. This paper contributes to a better understanding of the financial and managerial processes on which extractive energy practices are imagined, valued and decided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-258
JournalEconomy and Society
Issue number2
Early online date17 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Hydrocarbons
  • Extraction
  • Energy
  • Ethics
  • Financialization
  • Economization


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