Finance beyond Function: Three Causal Explanations for Financialization

Aaron Z. Pitluck, Fabio Mattioli, Daniel Souleles

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article suggests that it is advantageous for social scientists to deliberately depart from functionalist theories seeking to explain the expansion of financial instruments and logics across social life. Rather, we identify three causes of financialization from three extant clusters of scholastic activity: an organic political economy that sees finance expanding as a product or by‐product of larger state‐ and imperial‐level political struggles, a relational sociology that sees the ways that finance expands by becoming another medium for expressing and constraining social relationships, and a cultural analysis that observes the increasing redefinition of discursive and material practices as financial. Across this larger discussion, we introduce and situate the contributions to this journal's special issue on financialization.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomic Anthropology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)157-171
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Financialization
  • Functionalism
  • Political economy
  • Performativity
  • Relational sociology

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