Social scientists have often thought of markets as complementary—yet opposed—to hierarchies and organizations. Automating Finance contributes to this literature by stressing the importance of marketplaces—in our case, stock exchanges—as complex organizations.
This analytical shift is the result of understanding markets not only as sites for exchange but, as importantly, as situations facilitated through numerous devices. We often think of markets through their front stage—the stall in the winding, cobbled street; the carefully calculated supermarket aisles; the trading floors populated by interested financiers; or the abstract fictions of economists—markets are complex sociotechnical achievements that require vast crews for their manufacture, maintenance, and reinvention, necessarily located within organizations. Markets depend critically on the mundane routines, everyday practices, and lowly politics of messy organizations; they do not exist in opposition to hierarchies, but rather almost as ephemeral, performed surfaces of deeper, highly located bureaucracies rich in cultures, tensions, moralities, and contradictions. Automating Finance offers a useful example of how to think through the organizational nature of marketplaces.