Something else about the business news, finance, market discourses I've been thinking about. This discourse is clearly a ruling class discourse. But what that means is complex and uneven, and articulates with all kinds of relations.
It's a capitalist discourse that is for and by the people who own and control the means of production. It's a discourse for people in the dominant position of capitalist relations of exploitation.
But that relation of exploitation is articulated with others when it comes to finance, like relations of white supremacy, patriarchy, and ability in particular. (I’m with Stuart Hall when it comes to thinking about how ‘class’ relates to things like ‘race’, etc: the latter is one way the former is lived.)
I'm just starting to get a handle on the effectivity of these relations when they work together in the discourse itself (which is anchored in the practices of business, finance, and markets). It's really pointed and effective.
I'm on the lookout for concrete examples. One of them is obviously representational. The discourse I'm reading/hearing/seeing lacks 'diversity'. But representation is superficial. There are other things.
There's an exclusivity to business/finance talk. Like any discourse, there's a language game with rules you have to learn to play. But this one has a certain feel to it.
For instance, when I talk to friends who see what I've been writing here they pretty quickly mention how 'smart' it sounds, how they have never understood 'this stuff'. There's an intimidation there. Whereas talking about Biden or football or food or family doesn't have that same force.
Finance-speak has its own flavor. It feels particularly disembodied, competitive, and aggressive. But also the mathematics of it adds another layer too, a kind of 'intellectualism' of 'smartness' or 'nerdyness' combined with a sense of about 'doing business', accumulation, making money, having power.
The feeling of that discourse is represented pretty well in the television series Succession, a ficitonalized account of the Murdoch family. Kieran Culkin’s character exemplifies one very pointed version.
It’s interesting to consider that discourse alongside others, philosophical discourses or political ones like Marxism or libertarianism or centrism. Or even the welter of discourses in sports, family, religion; not to mention juridical stuff like law, courts, etc.
These language games all have their rules, but they get articulated with relations of exploitation and oppressions/hierarchies in different ways and they occupy very different places in the social formation.
Greg Laynor pointed me towards a dissertation that takes up the themes directly:
This research examines the discursive construction of financialization and financial markets as represented on the cable network CNBC. Following the financial crisis of 2008, discourses of an about finance became legible throughout the social body. From calls for austerity to understandings of the range of social and political possibles, financial markets were an increasingly important cultural force. Financial markets, however, are neither natural nor inevitable, and an analysis of the ways in which these markets and their participants are constituted enlists the Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) as a critical site in the cultural circuit of finance capitalism. How CNBC functions as both a financial entity in its own right, as well as a site of discursive production and distribution about finance, positions the network as an important site for the study of financial discourses. A critical discourse analysis of CNBC content highlighted a number of themes regarding market discourses: namely pertaining to ludo-finance, a financial pedagogy, new spatial and temporal social conceptions, and a ritualistic and religious attitude toward financial markets. Thinking through the implications of financial representations will only become more important as the institutions and discourses of finance increasingly structure the cultural, social, and political world.
Looking forward to reading it.