Alexandra Ouroussoff

Summary

alex-ouroussoff

My area of research is the anthropology of political economies.  I am particularly interested in the question of how we come to understand the economic circumstances in which we find ourselves.

My most recent fieldwork has focused on executives in charge of 13 internationally orientated corporations and credit analysts working in two of the three major U.S. based credit rating agencies who rate these companies. The six year project (1998 to 2005) partly funded by the then Department of Finance & Accounting, London School of Economics (1998-2002) resulted in the monograph, Wall Street at War: The Secret Struggle for the Global Economy, Polity Press 2010. The book was translated into French under the title: Triple A; une anthropologue dans les agences de notation. Belin, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2013. In the book I analyse how fundamental changes in the guiding principles and underlying purposes of credit rating agencies are perceived and understood by credit analysts and executives in charge of corporations they rate.

Here is Karen Ho talking about my book.  

My earlier research focused on the different collectivities within a multi-national corporation (factory workers, managers and executives) and how each perceives their relation to the other and to the economy as a whole. The monograph offers a critical ethnographic analysis of the western concept of the individual, the central argument of which appeared in Illusions of rationality; false premises of the liberal tradition. Man, Vol.28, no 2 June 1993. As post-doctoral fellow at the London Business School, I explored the radical discontinuity between business theory and perceptions of business executives taking part in the MBA program. A subsequent ethnographic analysis of the largest and most complex merger in British trade union history provided me with insight into the methodological problems of applying Malinowskian research methods to political economies, ‘What is an ethnographic study?’ Inside Organizations, Berg 2001.

Qualifications:

  • PhD Social Anthropology (University of London)
  • BSc Social Anthropology (London School of Economics)

Research area(s)

  • Anthropology of political economies
  • Methodology of the social sciences
  • Anthropology & psychoanalysis

Membership and affiliation

  • American Anthropological Association
  • Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Additional Publications

Ouroussoff, A. Wall Street at War: the secret struggle for the global economy, Polity Press, (Cambridge, 2010)

Research

Research interests

My current research continues to focus on financial institutions on Wall Street. Specifically, how fundamental changes in the guiding principles and underlying purposes of credit rating agencies are perceived by credit analysts, how they understand these changes, and their effect on the economy.

Research project(s) and grant(s)

The French edition of Wall Street at War: the secret struggle for the global economy will be published by Editions Belin, September 2012

I am now writing about how rating agencies unwittingly helped to precipitate the European sovereign debt crisis. An initial working paper was presented at the SASE annual conference, MIT, Cambridge (June 30, 2012)

 

Page last updated: Friday 30 September 2016