This chapter deals with a neglected feature of financial markets: the role of status groups and prestige. It shows how in the eighteenth century, stock brokers lacked prestige and legitimacy. At the turn of the nineteenth century, a process of socio-institutional enclosure began, which restricts access to brokerage activities and to transactions. Against the lack of a legal frame reinforcing financial transactions, prestige appeared as a means of building trust and legitimacy for stock exchange activities. Along with transaction rituals, rules of good social behavior, the dynastic transmission of brokerage privileges, social hierarchies, and the restricted access of outsiders to brokerage activities, another feature of social prestige emerged now on both sides of the Atlantic: the transformation of some brokers into “serious” authors, keen to straighten the public image of stock exchanges and of investment activities. Social closure should not be understood exclusively as professionalization, since it includes the opposite of the former: namely reaching out into society at large through inventing new activities such as writing.
Keywords: social closure; stock exchange; financial markets; stock brokers; socio-institutional enclosure; brokerage activities; transactions; legitimacy; brokerage privileges; social hierarchies; investment activities; prestige
Chapter. 11901 words.
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