‘Elephants can’t gallop’: performativity, knowledge and power in the market for lay-investing

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper examines lay-investment in financial markets (investment by members of the general public) as a practice performed by marketing knowledge. It follows the market studies programme (Araujo, Finch, & Kjellberg, 2010) to examine a problem that puzzles researchers in finance: why do lay-investors remain in the market despite their poor returns? Using a qualitative study of lay-investors in the United Kingdom, it considers the devices, ‘agencements’ and discourses that structure investment behaviour. It uses Foucault’s writing on governance under neo-liberalism to suggest that investors are constituted as self-entrepreneurs, sustained by antagonism to professional investors, heterodox market beliefs and a consumer allegiance to investment styles and products. Marketing knowledge is inscribed in market devices and structures market relations. Finally, it suggests that self-discipline and confession are normalising technologies that help investors cope with difficulties and losses in the market. The paper develops theoretical linkages between the literatures of performativity and governmentality.

    Summary statement of contribution: The paper expands the market studies literature through an analysis of the governance of lay-investors and their construction as productive economic agents. Marketing knowledge is presented as performative and crucial in to coordinating the construction of economic agency.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)193-218
    JournalJournal of Marketing Management
    Issue number1-2
    Early online date17 Nov 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Market studies
    • Foucault
    • Performativity
    • Bio-politics
    • Lay-investor


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