The Moral Contestability of Finance: Embodying the financial markets in the City of London

Dr Alexander Simpson1
1University Of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom

Drawing on a three-year ethnographic study of financial life in the City of London, this paper critically explores the cultural legitimation of market practice to examine the way in which financial actors neutralise the harms of their occupation. By embodying practices of speed, intelligence and discipline, market actors compete to become the market and, in doing so, culturally neutralise the harms of financial action. The unending trial of market competition forms a naturalising force of economic progress and social development that ensures that the ‘the most intelligent individuals’ are ‘continually selected’, while weakness is punished. Financial life, therefore, becomes a trial in controlling and embodying the unpredictabilities of the market. Those who succeed become part of a ‘separate, sacred group’ that ritualises their own exclusivity and adherence to the embedded values of the market. Specifically, this manifests itself as a common internalisation and embodiment of a ruling system of market capital; speed, intelligence and discipline. As a set of embodied strategies, market actors are able to fine tune their skills to hone in on and control the rapid fluctuations of the market. Embodying the market in this way (re)produces the symbolic violence of market capitalism, in which the dominant are dominated by the rules of the game to establish an ‘immediate submission to order’ (Bourdieu, 1990, p. 54). This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of how the market enters the body to instil a tacit complicity insofar as individuals remain unconscious to the violence of their actions.


Dr Alex Simpson is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the School of Applied Social Science. Having joined in September 2015, his work focuses on the criminology of harm, issues of elite deviance, cultural marginalisation and the sociology of political economy. Alex undertook his PhD at the University of York. Supported by an ESRC studentship, this ethnographic study examines the culture of finance and the neutralisation of deviance within the City of London.


Adam Marsden1
1Queensland University Of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Geographic profiling is a tool used to assist investigators to locate the possible operating base of an offender through the analysis of a linked crime series. Theories and principles such as ‘journey to crime’, ‘least effort’ and ‘routine activity’ allows the success of geographic profiling. Because hands-on crimes such as rape, burglary, arson, and murder have the deepest impact on society, geographic profiling is commonly used on these offences to aid in investigative strategies while also providing an intelligence-led policing approach to future crime. Unfortunately, in the past, hands-off crimes such as identity crime, get left behind and have not been assessed as to whether geographic profiling may assist in their investigations.

This presentation uses 13 case studies from the NSW region to determine the average distance to crime of identity offenders involved in ATM skimming. Geographic profiling principles and assumptions are used to explain offender’s modus operandi and target selection. The presentation will explain how criminal’s choice of targets will be influenced by financial institutions particularly leading to the year 2020.

By using slides and tables, the presenter will provide the audience with a greater understanding of identity criminals distances to crime and an understanding of issues relating to target selection.

Adam Marsden in an AFP officer of 12 years’ standing, specialising in fraud investigation. He was part of the AFP’s Identity Security Strike Team investigating criminal misuse of identity documents and was case officer for an investigation resulting in the bringing down of one of Australia’s largest identity crime syndicates.

Mr Marsden has advanced training in Geographic Profiling Analysis through California State University USA and a Masters in Fraud & Financial Crime through Charles Sturt University. He is presently researching at Queensland University of Technology’s Crime and Justice Research Centre, examining the influence of geographic profiling in fraud investigations.

Invisible powers to punish – the epitome of individualised control

Clare Farmer1
1Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Geelong, Australia

Problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption in and around licensed premises have prompted a range of legislative, regulatory and operational responses. One provision empowers licensees in Victoria, Australia, to formally bar patrons from their venues and the surrounding area. This mirrors similar mechanisms which enable police officers to exclude individuals from public areas for alcohol-related disorderly behaviours. While the rationale for formal licensee barring powers is sound, the manner of their implementation is more problematic.

The imposition of a licensee barring order requires no proof to be documented and it takes effect immediately. Non-compliance is subject to police enforcement and possible criminal breach proceedings. The process through which a barring order can be challenged is ambiguous, and the punishment is served regardless of the review outcome. No data is available to enable assessment of the way in which barring orders are used, who the recipients are, or the number of review requests submitted.

Barring orders extend to non-judicial and non-law enforcement officers a formal discretionary and pre-emptive power to punish. Yet, with no training, monitoring or oversight of their use, Victoria’s licensee barring order powers are open to abuse.

This paper highlights the disconnect between provisions which are implemented to address issues of community safety, but which create the potential for unwarranted punishment, discrimination, and the dilution of individual rights. Licensee barring orders embody the individualised control of problematic behaviours, and continue the steady progression of summary powers to punish that are opaque to scrutiny.

Dr Clare Farmer is a Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University. Her current research interests include the balance between police powers and individual rights, responses to alcohol-related disorderly behaviours, and sentencing practices.


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