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NoiseLiving and Trading in Electronic Finance$
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Alex Preda

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226427348

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226427515.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

The Ethnography of Noise in Electronic Finance

The Ethnography of Noise in Electronic Finance

(p.1) Introduction The Ethnography of Noise in Electronic Finance

Alex Preda

University of Chicago Press

The Introduction presents the main puzzle of the book: why do ordinary people take up trading when statistical evidence shows that a vast majority of them do not make any money? Starting with an argument initially made in financial theory, namely that markets need “noise” in order to work, it asks, How does this “noise” look like in practice? It introduces the distinction between informed or professional traders, on the one hand, and noise or retail traders, on the other hand, and questions it from a sociological point of view. The Introduction shows how the meaning of the financial concept of “noise” has changed over decades, to designate a particular category of traders as distinct from professional ones. This raises the issue of how various categories of traders are constituted, how they relate to each other, and how such links can be investigated within electronic markets. The Introduction lays out the ethnographical approach to investigating categories and types of traders, in relationship to the institutions which support trading. It argues that the ethnography of electronic trading and of retail traders cannot be limited to online exchanges, but needs to take into account the manifold institutions and interactions which constitute markets.

Keywords:   noise traders, financial, concept, traders, electronic finance, electronic markets, ethnography, professional traders

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