- Professor Donald MacKenzie
- 6.26 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
- +44 (0)131 650 3980
- Research Interests
- Financial Markets, Sociology of Science and Technology
Guidance and Feedback Hours
- Normally Mondays 2-4 pm in teaching weeks, but of course suspended currently because of COVID-19. Stay safe everyone!
My research is on the sociology of markets, focussing on automated trading and online advertising. I've worked in the past on topics ranging from the sociology of nuclear weapons to the meaning of proof in the context of computer systems critical to safety or security.
I'm currently writing a book with the working title, Machines That Trade: Speed-of-Light Algorithms and How They Are Transforming Financial Markets, under contract to Princeton University Press. Previous books include Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance (MIT Press, 1990; publisher's note); An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets (MIT Press, 2006; publisher's note); and Chains of Finance: How Investment Management is Shaped (Oxford University Press, 2017; publisher's note), jointly written with Diane-Laure Arjaliès, Philip Grant, Iain Hardie and Ekaterina Svetlova. View a video of Donald talking about his research at Edinburgh's celebrated Library of Mistakes.
Open-access articles and downloadable working papers:
Market Devices and Structural Dependency: The Origins and Development of 'Dark Pools' Donald MacKenzie, May 2019.
How Fragile Is Competition in High-Frequency Trading? Donald MacKenzie, March 2019, published on the Tabb Forum.
'Making', 'Taking' and the Material Political Economy of Algorithmic Trading, Donald MacKenzie, November 2018, published in Economy and Society.
How Algorithms Interact: Goffman's 'Interaction Order in Automated Trading, Donald MacKenzie, June 2018
Material Signals: A Historical Sociology of High-Frequency Trading, Donald MacKenzie, May 2018, published in the American Journal of Sociology
'More dumb money than at any point in modern history', Donald MacKenzie, February 2018. Draft article on short selling for the London Review of Books
A Material Political Economy: Automated Trading Desk and Price Prediction in High-Frequency Trading, Donald MacKenzie, November 2016
The Lemon-Squeezing Problem: Analytical and Computational Limitations in CDO Evaluation, Donald MacKenzie and Iain Hardie, May 2014
The Formula That Killed Wall Street: The Gaussian Copula and Modelling Practices in Investment Banking, Donald MacKenzie and Taylor Spears, October 2013
A device for being able to book P&L: The Organizational Embedding of the Gaussian Copula, Donald MacKenzie and Taylor Spears, October 2013
Mechanizing the Merc: The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Rise of High-Frequency Trading, Donald MacKenzie Oct 2013
Drilling Through the Allegheny Mountains: Liquidity, Materiality and High-Frequency Trading, Donald MacKenzie et al, January 2012
Evaluation Cultures? On Invoking 'Culture' in the Analysis of Behaviour in Financial Markets. Donald MacKenzie, Sept 2011
Chalk: Materials and Concepts in Mathematics Research. Michael J. Barany & Donald MacKenzie, Preprint Sept 2011
Accounting for Carbon, Heather Lovell and Donald MacKenzie, June 2011. Article published in Antipode.
The Credit Crisis as a Problem in the Sociology of Knowledge. Donald MacKenzie, American Journal of Sociology, May 2011.
Knowledge Production in Financial Markets: Credit Default Swaps, the ABX and the Subprime Crisis. Donald MacKenzie, Nov 2010
'Making Things the Same', Donald MacKenzie, Feb 2008 (.pdf)
'The Finitist Accountant', David Hatherley, David Leung and Donald MacKenzie, April 2007 (.pdf file)
'Finding the Ratchet: The Political Economy of Carbon Trading', essay for London Review of Books. Donald MacKenzie, March 2007 (.pdf)
'The Material Production of Virtuality: Innovation, Cultural Geography, and Facticity in Derivatives Markets. Donald MacKenzie, December 2006 (.pdf)
'Producing Accounts: Finitism, Technology and Rule-Following', Donald MacKenzie, November 2006 (.pdf file)
'Assembling an Economic Actor: The Agencement of a Hedge Fund', Iain Hardie, Donald MacKenzie, May 2006 (.pdf file)
'A Price is a Social Thing: Towards a Material Sociology of Arbitrage ', Daniel Beunza, Iain Hardie, Donald MacKenzie, January 2006 (.pdf file)
- BSc (University of Edinburgh)
- PhD (University of Edinburgh)
Topics interested in supervising
I'm keen to work with PhD students who have innovative project ideas in fields ranging from the sociology of science and technology to economic sociology (especially the social studies of finance, on which several of my current students are working).
If you are interested in being supervised by Donald MacKenzie, please see the links below for more information: