Cultures of High-frequency Trading: Mapping the Landscape of Algorithmic Developments in Contemporary Financial Markets

Ann-Christina Lange, Marc Lenglet, Robert Seyfert

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    As part of ongoing work to lay a foundation for social studies of high-frequency trading (HFT), this paper introduces the culture(s) of HFT as a sociological problem relating to knowledge and practice. HFT is often discussed as a purely technological development, where all that matters is the speed of allocating, processing and transmitting data. Indeed, the speed at which trades are executed and data transmitted is accelerating, and it is fair to say that algorithms are now the primary interacting agents operating in the financial markets. However, we contend that HFT is first and foremost a cultural phenomenon. More specifically, both individuals and collective agents – such as algorithms – might be considered cultural entities, charged with very different ways of processing information, making sense of it and turning it into knowledge and practice. This raises issues relating to situated knowledge, distributed cognition and action, the assignment of responsibility when regulating high-speed algorithms, their history, organizational structure and, perhaps more fundamentally, their representation.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEconomy and Society
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)149-165
    Number of pages17
    Publication statusPublished - May 2016


    • Algorithms
    • Cultures
    • Economic sociology
    • High-frequency trading
    • Social Studies of Finance

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