Where the Action Is: Internet Stock Trading as Edgework

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Abstract

This article puts forth the argument that with the transfer of stock trading from what could be called an analog world of phone calls, faxes, and trips to the local bank, to the computer-mediated environment of the computer screen, the market becomes the site for new types of individual experiences and practices that cannot be predicted, captured, or understood with existing economic and finance theories. Specifically, by giving the stock market an interactionally or response-present face-in-action (Knorr, Cetina & Bruegger, 2002b), the computer screen alters investors’ conventional relationship with, and perception of, the market. It is suggested that the market-on-the-screen gives birth to the market as a place for edgeworking (Lyng, 1990), or experiencing risk as an end in itself. A prerequisite for edgework is a real sense of agency, afforded to the individual investor, for the first time in history, by the computer.

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