Can They all be ‘Shit-heads’? Learning to be a Contrarian Investor

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Abstract

This article seeks to explain one of the sensibilities or dispositions that novices learn in the process of becoming financiers, namely, to be a contrarian. We will review investment pitches from an American undergraduate collegiate investment fund, interviews with some members of the club, and field notes from a few of their outings, and treat instances of their contrariness as moments in their process of going from non-investors to investors, moments in which they experiment with and learn new social habits, identities and practices. Moreover, we connect this contrariness with a much longer tradition in the formation of an identity and subjectivity as an investor. More than any simple technology of thought to be deployed in a particular situation, contrarianism is a thoroughgoing mode of framing and understanding life, both in investment contexts and beyond, which we suggest was born between the 1880s and 1940s and has persisted in various forms to this day. This paper offers two instances of how someone becomes contrary, and suggests that contrarianism may be a fairly typical way for humans to make sense of financial markets.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Volume12
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)491-507
Number of pages17
ISSN1753-0350
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Published online: 18. September 2019

Keywords

  • Investors
  • Contrarian investing
  • Value investing
  • Learning
  • Contrarianism

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