(How) do devices matter in Finance?

I. Ertürk, J. Froud, A. Leaver, S. Johal, K Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article distinguishes between different concepts of device. In traditional English usage, as in the Foucualdian or Deleuzian concept, devices exist in a context of power, opportunism and force. Through argument and evidence about hedge funds and about financial innovation we argue that this kind of non Callonian device is ubiquitous in finance so that the idea of device can be part of a much more political analysis of present day capitalism. Capitalist devices are not neutral tools with fixed uses and predictable results because they vary in purpose and effects from one context to another. This is the point Deleuze makes in the context of nomadic war machine when he explains how a tool can be a weapon; and it is an issue in present day capitalism where we can ask whether a politically strong financial elite have turned tools like short-selling into weapons that may harm other stakeholders in the economy. This article also connects devices in finance and the process of innovation with the desires of financial elites who enrich themselves and are negligent about the costly consequences of their bricolage for society. In this political frame, financial devices are products of a banking system that works for itself generating fees and bonuses and incidentally recreating pre-1914 levels of income inequality of historic proportions. This goes unchallenged because a democratic deficit allows financial elites to socialise losses and privatise gains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-352
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • financialisation, finance, assemblage, devices, banking


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