Since the 2000s, research on the financialization of the economy has focused on describing the growing importance of financial market players, particularly fund managers and their motives, in the functioning of our economies. My contribution to this field of research is based on a socio-technical approach and starts with the analysis of financial arrangements and forms of valuation. I try to document the diffusion of knowledge and practices born in the world of finance into spheres where they were previously absent. I am particularly interested in following the trajectory of a variety of innovations aiming to tackle diverse social and environmental issues (eg. Social Impact Bonds, Green Finance, Impact Investing) or development issues (eg. Micro-finance, Blended finance) with the tools of profit-making finance. I also try to describe how the commitment of the private financial and philanthropic sectors to the development of social or green financial products goes hand in hand with a transformation of public policies.
This program of research has benefited from the Annelise Maier Award I received from the Humboldt Foundation in 2016. A series of international conferences has been organized in Hamburg in 2016 and 2017 on the financialisation of social, environmental and development questions.
Conceptual papers on financialization
2015 Chiapello E., Financialisation of valuation, Human Studies, 2015, vol 38, n°1 pp. 13-35,
This article shows that forms of analysis and calculation specific to finance are spreading, and changing valuation processes in various social settings. This perspective is used to contribute to the study of the recent transformations of capitalism, as financialisation is usually seen as marking the past three decades. After defining what is meant by “financialised valuation,” different examples are discussed. Recent developments concerning the valuation of assets in accounting standards and credit risk in banking regulations are used to suggest that colonisation of financial activities by financialised valuations is taking place. Other changes, concerning the valuation of social or cultural activities and environmental issues are also highlighted in order to support the hypothesis of a parallel colonisation of non-financial activities by financialised valuations. Specifically, the language of finance appears to gradually being incorporated into public policies, especially in Europe—and this trend seems to have gathered pace since the 2000s. Some interpretations are proposed to understand why public policies are seemingly increasingly reliant on financialised valuations.
2016 Chiapello E. Financiarisation : Financiarisation et outils de gestion In : Philippe Batifoulier, Franck Bessis, Ariane Ghirardello et al.(eds) Dictionnaire des conventions : Autour des travaux d’Olivier Favereau. Villeneuve d'Ascq : Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2016 https://doi.org/10.4000/books.septentrion.14429.
2017 Chiapello E., La financiarisation des politiques publiques, Mondes en développement, N° spécial « Financement ou financiarisation du développement ? », JJ Gabas, M. Vernières (eds), Vol.45-2017/2-n°178, pp. 23-40 (DOI :10.3917/med.178.0023)
Cet article porte sur la financiarisation, considérée comme un processus de transformation du monde par des pratiques, théories et instruments nés dans le secteur financier et utilisés désormais pour revisiter des questions a priori très éloignées (sociales, environnementales, éducatives, culturelles,...). Cette financiarisation des politiques publiques semble découler du projet de mobiliser l’épargne privée afin de desserrer les contraintes financières des pouvoirs publics. Nous distinguons différentes opérations qui, prises ensemble, constituent ce que nous appelons le « travail de financiarisation ».
2019 Chiapello E., The work of Financialisation, in: The making of Finance, Routledge, Marc Lenglet, Isabelle Chambost, Yamina Tadjeddine (eds.), pp. 192-200 https://www.routledge.com/The-Making-of-Finance-Perspectives-from-the-Social-Sciences/Chambost-Lenglet-Tadjeddine/p/book/9781138498570
2020 Chiapello E., Financialization as a socio-technical process, Chapter 7, in: The Routledge International Handbook of Financialization, Phil Mader, Daniel Mertens, Natascha van der Zwan, London: Routledge, pp. 81-91
Financialization of bank and finance
2015 Baud C., Chiapello E., Comment les firmes se financiarisent : sous le marché, les règles ? Le cas de la financiarisation du crédit bancaire, Revue Française de Sociologie, 2015, vol. 56, N°3, pp. 439-468
2015 Baud C., Chiapello E., How the Financialization of Firms Occurs: The Role of Regulation and Management Tools.
The Case of Bank Credit, Revue Française de Sociologie, 2015, vol. 56, N°3, pp. 439-468 [English translation of the French article on line] http://www.cairn-int.info/article-E_RFS_563_0439--how-the-financialization-of-firms-occurs.htm
A study of the implementation, in a small mutual bank, of the Basel II Agreements makes it possible to document some processes in the financialization of firms. Financialization does not necessarily occur through the acquisition of capital in firms by institutional investors whose goal is to create value for shareholders. In the case studied here it was regulatory decisions taken by both the European Union and by the French banking supervisor that led the bank to totally transform its organization and working methods, and to adopt practices informed by prevailing financial theory. These changes then had an effect on its clientele of small- and medium-sized enterprises who thus became subject, via the new credit allocation procedures, to new financial discipline.
2016 Chiapello E., Walter C., The three ages of financial quantification: a conventionalist approach to the financiers’ metrology, Historical Social Research /Historische Sozialforschung, R. Diaz-Bone, E. Didier (eds), Special Issue « Conventions and quantification in economy, politics and statistics - historical perspectives” , vol 41, N° 2, pp. 155-177 http://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/handle/document/46967
This article presents a conventionalist interpretation of the financialization of the economy. We define three periods, each one associated with conventional calculation systems that may shape investment decisions. Each of these periods begins with the adoption by financial practitioners of a new “convention” to make investment decisions: the actuarial convention at the end of the 19th century, the mean-variance convention during the 1970s, and the market-consistent convention since the 1990s. These conventions are rooted in finance theory developments and are associated with different financing circuits for economic activity. When a new convention arises, it does not mean the disap-pearance of the old one, which can still be used by some practitioners for certain given matters, but it can also redefine some financial professions by fragmenting them according to the convention followed, and it can finally also give rise to new professions.
2017 Baud C., Chiapello E., Understanding the disciplinary aspects of neoliberal regulations: The case of credit-risk regulation under the Basel Accords, Critical Perspectives on Accounting Volume 46, July 2017, Pages 3-23
The risk management explosion has been accompanied by the rise of risk-based regulations. The 2004 reform of the Basel Agreements (Basel II) is usually presented as a typical example of the development of such risk-based regulations. By comparing the discourses accompanying Basel II with an in-depth analysis of its technical provisions for credit risk regulation, our study shows that, if the Basel reform was driven by a neoliberal political agenda, it counter-intuitively resulted in a significant development of intrusive disciplinary processes for banks and their credit-management processes. Drawing on Foucault’s analyses of neoliberalism, the paper however suggests that the presence of disciplinary aspects in this risk-based regulation should not necessarily be regarded as a “pathological drift” or as a “subversion” from its initial neoliberal program, but rather as both neoliberalism’s other face and its very condition. Methodologically, this study also underlines the value of approaching risk management issues by an in-depth analysis of their technical specifications, since this approach enables us to construct the contrasting image of the changes presented here, and consequently to highlight the strong disciplinary processes embedded in this neoliberal-inspired reform and their structuring effects on management accounting and control processes. Finally, this approach also allows us to better understand the role played by calculative technologies in this disciplinarization process.
Financialization of social and development questions
In progress : Chiapello E., Engels A., Gresse E. (eds) Financializing Development. Global games, local experiments, London: Routledge
2020 Chiapello E., Knoll L; M. E. Warner (2020) Special Issue: Social Impact Bonds and the Urban Transformation, Journal of Urban Affairs, 42:6, 815, DOI: 10.1080/07352166.2020.1805240
2020 Chiapello E., Knoll L. (eds) (2020) Historical Social Research, “Social Finance, Impact Investing and the Financialization of the Public Interest”, Vol. 45, N° 3 https://www.gesis.org/en/hsr/current-issues/2020/453-social-finance/big-data
2017 Chiapello E., Godefroy G., The Dual Function of Judgment Devices. Why Does the Plurality of Market Classifications Matter? Historical Social Research /Historische Sozialforschung, K. Krenn (ed.), Special Issue « Market classification” 2017 (42) N°1, pp. 152-188. http://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/handle/document/51170
This article aims to advance understanding of the dual function of judgment devices (Karpik 2010) in markets. First, these devices support the construction of markets and their segmentation into classes of products, each segment being associated with different procedures for judging the quality or value of goods. Second, they organize classifications and a ranking of the things traded in the same market segment. The fragmentation of markets, understood as the cohabitation of several types of judgment devices, each one associated with different configurations of actors and practices, can then be seen as a welcome source of diversity, preventing the standardizing effects that would result from over-similar judgment devices. This article studies the classification operations that accompany changes in the French market that provides funding for social-sector organizations through financial and banking channels. We observe the arrival on this market of impact investing, the name given since the end of the 2000s to a set of venture capitalism-inspired financing methods that originated in the USA and the UK. We study these classification operations at three levels: the boundary-building work needed to create the idea of a new financing market (the impact investing (II) market), the fragmentation of the existing market for financing social organizations into sub-spaces governed by different assessment and classification regimes, and the effect of these classifications on the organizations being judged.
2020. Chiapello E, Knoll L. (2020) The Welfare Conventions Approach: A Comparative Perspective on Social Impact Bonds, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 22:2, 100-115. (DOI: 10.1080/13876988.2019.1695965). Special issue on Comparing the Development of Social Impact Bonds across different Countries and Policy Sectors”, A. Fraser, C. FitzGerald and J. Kimmitt. Eds.
The Social Impact Bond (SIB) is a new funding mechanism for welfare programs. It is supposed to create savings for the public sector from which private returns can be deduced. Presented as a purely technical solution, SIBs discard their political morality. The Welfare Convention Approach (WCA) is designed for studying SIBs as disputed and versatile welfare apparatuses. We claim that elements from diverse historical welfare conventions (the philanthropic, communitarian, civic, market, full employment, entrepreneurial, financial, and behavioral) 2 reveal the diverse institutional conflicts and compromises of SIBs at the time they are implemented. In so doing, the WCA informs comparative research on SIBs.
2020 Chiapello E., Knoll L. (2020), Social Finance and Impact Investing. Governing Welfare in the Era of Financialization in : Chiapello E., Knoll L. (eds) (2020) Historical Social Research, Special Issue : “Social Finance, Impact Investing and the Financialization of the Public Interest”, Vol. 45, N° 3, pp. 7-30
2021 Buffa V., Chiapello E., Ronal O ., Thyrard A. La financiarisation des politiques publiques. Trois cas exemplaires. In Action Publique. Recherches et Pratiques, N° 10. 2021/1, pp. 5-14, https://www.economie.gouv.fr/igpde-editions-publications/larticle_n10
2013 Mesure de l’impact social : pourquoi tant d’intérêt(s) ?, Interfaces, Confrontations Europe, N° 86, mai 2013
2019. Les investisseurs privés dans le secteur social, Interview ;Ève Chiapello, Propos recueillis par Thomas Lemaigre en mai 2017, La Revue Nouvelle, N° 4, pp. 53-60 ( http://www.revuenouvelle.be/ )