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Legitimacy and status groups in financial markets




Economic sociologists have argued that financial markets should be analysed as uncertainty-processing social networks and intermediary groups. Networks and intermediaries alone cannot confer legitimacy upon financial actors and transactions. Status groups are a solution to this problem. They emphasize reputation, honour and good social behaviour as stabilizers of collective action, as means of social control and as indicators of legitimacy. I examine here the emergence and evolution of status groups of brokers in London, New York and Paris, and show how emphasis on honour was used to legitimize financial transactions. I argue that financial markets should be conceived as networks, intermediary and status groups. In global, automated financial markets status groups like securities analysts are gaining in prominence.