Narrative and Finance: Cultural Logic of Financialisation and Financial Crisis – Focusing on the Korean Financial Crisis

Lee, Wan Gi. 2014. Narrative and Finance: Cultural Logic of Financialisation and Financial Crisis – Focusing on the Korean Financial Crisis. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis suggests a cultural logic of financialisation in terms of (re)presentation of information and (re)configuration of temporality, both of which are critically undertaken and regulated by financial narrative. This narrative functions, following Bourdieu, as “the sign of wealth” in our times. It is time for cultural theorists and activists to approach finance as a set of epistemic cultural processes beyond the economic, which modulates epistemological and ontological contexts, affecting actors’ cognition and behavior in value production and realisation. Financialisation is supported and maintained by narrative intervention in valorising the onto-phenomenological level of the economic. From this perspective, financialisation is suggested as a disinformation campaign, through which the cognitive dissonance of the financial mechanism is effectively contained, concealing its damaging effects and thus valorising the financial mechanism. It implements an intensification of the transactional orientation as the legitimate mode of value production and circulation. Sustaining and amplifying the transactional orientation of investment banking among the actors in the financial markets, the financial system conceals cognitive dissonance through its operativity of information. It works towards the construction of a new financial reality, stimulating belief and guiding action⎯without which financial integrity, credit relations, and transactional orientation could not be sustained.

Observing the contemporary culture-finance relationship from the perspective of value politics under financial capitalism, this thesis analyses specific aspects of homology between culture and finance from the perspective of the cultural logic of financial narrative. This is seen as a frame of value transference and a device of activation as well as of domination. Exploring the possibilities of a cultural theory of value, this project, first of all, focuses upon the question of value and the actual process of value formation associated with operativity and performativity of narrative. Narrative is analysed as the cognitive operation constitutive of financial narrative politics for value transference in the discourse of financial crisis, which has been, as this thesis upholds and examines, systematically operated throughout the Korean financial crisis. It mainly revisits the value theories and narrative analyses of Simmel, Marx, Ricoeur, Jameson, and Genette to articulate an economic theory of value in the cultural politics of narrative. Following Ricoeur, it sees this as a mechanism of value transference, and it is here correlated with the financial doctrine of entanglement and contagion. Through a narrative, wherein utterances and statements around a primal event, or crisis, perform as the collective operativity of information, a value is constructed and transferred to inform and motivate actors. Narrative structure, from which the nexuses of intentionalities of the financial system are formulated and transmitted, is proposed as a meta-frame of cultural valorisation. It valorises economic value for the (re)production of dominant financial value, without which any unprecedented application of ‘methodology,’ such as a ‘shock doctrine,’ of economic prescription cannot be legitimised and extrapolated.

This project begins with the argument in Chapter 2 that narrative exploits uncertainty as a resource for performativity, and thus necessitates a new standard, thereby regulating and activating heterogeneous actors in the markets. A financial crisis is the crucial point of narrativity in the constitution of a legitimate guiding structure, exploiting uncertainty in order to manage risk⎯ thus producing a narrative as a frame of self-reference. The narrative identifies the new main value by effectively performing the uncertainty of a financial crisis. In this regard, the chapter proposes that the necessity of negating (or guaranteeing) the fundamental contradiction, or “the self-abolishing contradiction,” bolstered by the sheer size of the entanglement and contagion in finance capitalism, is authenticated and initiated by a preliminary cultural operation of a discursive approach to the crisis. The discourse is not a randomly disseminated rhetoric, but is presented as a narrative in which temporal reconfiguration and sequences of action are carefully guided to represent the main event as a source of cognition and action for contextual control; a certain sequence of events is thereby thematised and anticipated through the interpretation of the event in question, with clear intentions by the main financial narrator. Narrative opens a performative field of objectification in which the power relationship between the main narrator and the object, the narratee, is established and coordinated. The narrative emphasis in a collapse, for instance, one that is yet to come, grounds the operativity and performativity through which actors are informed and motivated, while implementing and legitimising the necessary official description.

Articulating the intentions of the system, and its employment of capitalistically reconfigured temporality, as well as its representation of information into narrative, Chapter 3 suggests that narrative is the objectifying field of value and value-transference, in which the textuality of everyday narrative is produced to direct actors as the ushering force of the main value. Proposing value as a guiding force of cognition and action, the chapter closely inquires into the value-forming process, arguing that narrative process is an inevitable

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Narrative, Finance, Cultural Logic of Financialisation, Financial Crisis, Reconfiguration of Temporality, Representation of Information, Disinformation, Performativity and Operativity of Information

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


3 October 2014

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 Oct 2014 15:36

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:49


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