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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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Rituals and Illusions of the Trading Screen

Rituals and Illusions of the Trading Screen

(p.118) Chapter Four Rituals and Illusions of the Trading Screen

Alex Preda

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the act of online trading itself—what it means, from the viewpoint of the trader, to use an online technology to conduct financial transactions. It analyzes what happens when traders place orders on their screens, how orders are handled within the infrastructure of electronic brokerages, and how traders perceive and make sense of their activities. While the orders placed by traders are not always matched against each other, the trading screen is geared toward producing a necessary illusion of relationality—that is, of traders relating to other traders. The chapter examines the types of actions that constitute trading and the ways in which they are shaped by the inherent relationality of the trading screen. Anchored in ethnographic observations, it investigates how various experiences of using the trading screen are articulated and how social hierarchies are produced in this process. Many ethnographies of financial trading have seen it as an egalitarian environment, where traders differ from each other based only on their skills. This chapter investigates how particular forms of trading are not egalitarian at all, but express in their setup hierarchical differences between retail traders, on the one hand, and traders claiming superior status, on the other.

Keywords:   trading screen, observation, trading technology, currency markets, relationality, hierarchies

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