David Pinzur

BA: Washington University - St. Louis, Philosophy

Areas of specialization: economic sociology, financial markets, culture, science and technology

Dissertation: "Financial Infrastructure and Market Stability: Building Futures Markets on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange"

The social underpinnings of economic markets have been a topic of sociological study from the founding of the discipline. Economic sociologists are now equipped with multiple theoretical tools for analyzing the social structures of both product markets (where physical goods are bought and sold) and financial markets. Empirical research has shown that economic behavior is impacted by institutional environments, network linkages, calculative tools and cultural understandings. But, in focusing on the social structure of individual markets, prior research has failed to investigate the foundational, socio-technical linkages between product and financial markets. My research directly investigates this connecting infrastructure. I compare the establishment of futures markets on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange in the decades following the Civil War, focusing on the creation of interfaces that linked the new futures markets to extant agricultural markets. I ask how these interfaces differed, and what features of the exchanges led to their dissimilarity. Further, I investigate whether these distinct infrastructures contributed to the stark divergence in stability and level of manipulation that existed between these two markets. The project relies on the qualitative analysis of primary and secondary sources including archival documents from the exchanges, books, pamphlets, periodicals, congressional testimony and court proceedings.

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