Financialization has become the go-to term for scholarship that studies the vastly expanded role of finance in contemporary politics, economy and society. The concept itself has equally expanded and evolved from a niche research theme in critical scholarship to one that informs an increasingly broad-ranging and pluridisciplinary research field.
The expected publication date of this Handbook is the final quarter of 2019. You can already read the opening chapter, Financialization: An Introduction, here.
After a period of rather sporadic usage in the 1980s and 1990s, financialization is now a firmly established concept, with more than 250 peer-reviewed scholarly articles with either financialization or financialisation in the title listed by the Web of Science in the past five years. It is not bounded by any discipline, but rather the term is used by scholars across the social sciences who are interested in finance and its growing influence.
However, due not least to the pluridisciplinarity of the research field and the multidimensional nature of the issue, the study of financialization could remind one of the parable of the five blind men each feeling different parts of an elephant, and each “seeing” it as a very different animal. Different dimensions of financialization have often been evaluated in separation, and the field is riven by a number of cleavages. Scholars of government, for instance, have taken very different views from cultural theorists or heterodox economists; and those fascinated by the digital wonders of high-frequency trading have drawn very different conclusions about financialization from those observing its manifestations in villages of the global South. Thus, the nature of this enigmatic beast has proven to be indeterminable from any of its partial characteristics; and assembling a holistic scholarly work of reference is as much a challenge as a necessity.
Despite the ever-growing popularity of the concept and the troubling lacunae that remain, no comprehensive handbook has been published yet. We have therefore launched the International Handbook on Financialization, which should become a sine qua non reference point in university classrooms and social science research institutions. This handbook accomplishes three main things:
- provide a comprehensive overview of the scholarship on financialization as it stands today, more than twenty years after the concept was first embraced by social scientists. This overview takes stock of the diverse avenues of research and the contributions they have made to understand the changes in contemporary societies wrought by finance. At the same time, it does not shy away from critical questions, which have recently been raised, about the extent to which the term remains useful.
- reflect the move away from scholarship descriptively investigating the manifestations of financialization (e.g. the financialization of particular economic sectors, segments of society, or particular geographies) towards scholarship studying the driving forces, mechanisms and boundaries of financialization.
- promote a more inclusive approach towards financialization studies: one that does not privilege the North Atlantic region, on which much scholarship has previously focused, but includes contributions which take a more global view – hence “international” handbook.