Stock trading and daily life : lay stock investors in Taiwan
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Drawing on recent discussions of relational embeddedness and socio-technical agencement, this thesis analyses the relationship between stock trading and lay investors’ daily lives, including their social relations, activities, events, devices, places, work and ways of thinking. Taiwan’s stock market provides an appropriate location for investigation because of the dominance of lay investors in the market and the high proportion of Taiwan’s adult population who engage in stock trading. The data were obtained from three main sets of sources: in-depth interviews, document analysis and ethnographic observation. I argue that lay market actors are not only framed by the market’s mechanisms, but also by daily-life structures. The Taiwan Stock Exchange, as an electronic, anonymous financial market, has been a challenge to the embeddedness approach due to the absence of direct interaction between the parties to transactions. This study presents another aspect of socio-economic relationships in the market: the role of financial-market activity in wider social interactions. Like taking part in any popular social activity, lay investors’ social ties are maintained and expended by engaging in stock trading. Social relations and stock trading are woven together and form a largely seamless whole, part of lay investors’ daily life. The socio-technical agencements of lay investors contain distinctive features: diversity, bricolage, use of non-professional ‘devices’, action in non-financial places, everyday means of controlling market risk and association with everyday events. The differences between the agencements of lay investors and professional practitioners produce an asymmetry of calculative capabilities between market actors. Superior calculative capabilities tend to give an advantage to professional practitioners in the market, but these strengths are constrained by political and economic factors. This study sheds light on micro social factors, which are comparable with economic, institutional and psychological explanations, in accounting for lay investors’ behaviours in financial markets. The analysis also suggests the compatibility of the three important social science approaches to economic agents: Granovetter’s embeddedness, Zelizer’s relational work and Callon’s agencement.