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Believing in free markets: The construction of morality in post-crisis financial advice publications

Krause, Maria Grace 2021. Believing in free markets: The construction of morality in post-crisis financial advice publications. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Financial crises and scandals have historically played an important role in the critique as well as the legitimisation of financial markets. They also highlight the need of those wanting to legitimise the economic systems’ need to develop ideological strategies by which its harms are normalised, justified or concealed. Investors themselves are targets of such legitimising discourses, and it is important to understand how they are addressed, animated and beguiled. In this thesis I look at the various interpretations of freedom and justice that are mobilised in financial advice publications after the 2008/2009 financial crash and consider how these understandings work to manage the tensions and contradictions of investor capitalism. With a sample of 478 articles published between 2010 and 2013, using methods drawn from critical discourse and thematic analysis, I explore the various moral norms constructed in the publications and look at how these norms make sense of harms associated with financial activity, as well as how they construct investing as a meaningful activity. What I discover is that there are three distinct moral positions in my data, which work together to create a belief system in which challenges to the legitimacy of free markets can be neutralised without having to be addressed directly. I also situate these findings within a historical context by tracing the way that moral ideas about financial markets have developed over the last 300 years. I pay special attention to the way that in the wake of financial crises, partial explanations of the crises have been integrated into the moral narratives, thus normalising financial markets. My study shows some of the ways this process can be observed in the wake of the 2008/2009 financial crises, with a special focus on the way that fear is used to evade moral questions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 March 2022
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 01:55

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