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Making the grade: infrastructural semiotics and derivative market outcomes on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange, 1856–1909

Pinzur, David (2016) Making the grade: infrastructural semiotics and derivative market outcomes on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange, 1856–1909. Economy and Society, 45 (3-4). 431 - 453. ISSN 0308-5147

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Identification Number: 10.1080/03085147.2016.1225360

Abstract

This paper contributes to a socio-technical analysis of derivatives by offering an infrastructural explanation of divergent outcomes on two early American futures markets. It takes as the starting-point of analysis the classification systems by which these futures markets were constitutively linked to underlying markets in agricultural commodities. Despite the formal similarity of these systems, their contrasting implementation–i.e. how grading was accomplished and integrated into practice–produced classifications with dissimilar semiotic qualities. This semiotic distinction is shown to have promoted divergent economic behaviours and outcomes on the two markets: high-risk speculation and volatility on the Chicago Board of Trade, low-risk hedging and stability on the New Orleans Cotton Exchange. The paper thus argues that treating classifications in their semiotic capacity yields an analysis that can connect foundational infrastructures and market-level outcomes in meaningful, non-deterministic ways.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/reso20/current
Additional Information: © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2020 13:42
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 04:05
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/102988

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