Financialization and Political Subjectivity: Does Personal Investing Turn Workers into Capitalists?

When: 11 Apr 2022, 14:15-15:30
Where: Zoom
Speaker: Kevin Young

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Meeting ID: 958 3208 8099


Existing scholarship has found numerous ways that financialization has affected politics and culture. Among the most interesting are those consequences of financialization that serve to further bolster and deepen the political and regulatory environment in which financialization thrives. As a macro-structural shift in how capitalism is organized, one of the strengths of financialization is the existence of such ‘self-perpetuating’ dynamics. This paper investigates whether the spread of investment culture is one such self-perpetuating dynamic, and if so, how and under what conditions this might operate. That fact that financialization has spread and promoted a personal investment culture through various means, is fairly uncontroversial and straightforward. But what consequences has this had on the political and regulatory environment? The paper investigates whether individual investment activity shifts people’s political attitudes and policy preferences, through a quantitative analysis of large-scale survey data in two highly financialized country contexts: the UK and the USA. Examining patterns form the early 1990s to the present, I find an array of evidence across time and context that some kinds of financial asset ownership are consistently associated with differences in some political attitudes and policy preferences, but not others.