The Possibility of Critique under a Financialized Capitalism: The Case of Private Equity in the UK

Christian De Cock, Daniel Nyberg

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In this article, we examine the theoretically constructed case of private equity in the UK anno 2007. The theory at play is the theoretical edifice Luc Boltanski has been developing for more than two decades and which concerns the underlying architectonics of how social reality is constituted, challenged and stabilized. We thus interweave the story of private equity with the evolution of Boltanski’s work: from the six-world model to the widening of the critical notion of ‘test’ and the outline of a new ‘connexionist’ capitalist logic, and finally to his most recent attempts at reconnecting his sociology of critical practices with a more traditional critical sociology. Now that Boltanski’s work from the 1990s is being increasingly used and critiqued in our field, we believe it is important to engage with his more recent writings which, while less easy to ‘apply’, have acquired more depth, complexity and a change in focus in response to some of the more pertinent critique. The case of private equity is of particular interest in that for a brief moment it became the ‘face’ of 21st century capitalism, something which is significant in the broadening of our discussion into the possibilities and the limits of critique under a financialized capitalism.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)465-484
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Boltanski
  • Critical management
  • Critique
  • Finance capitalism
  • Pragmatic sociology
  • Private equity

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