Staff profiles

Donald MacKenzie

Donald MacKenzie
Professor Donald MacKenzie
SociologySchool of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of Edinburgh
6.26 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 650 3980
Research Interests
Financial Markets, Emissions Markets, Credit Crisis, Social Studies of Finance

Office hours

Mondays, 2.30pm to 4.30pm (in teaching weeks), or email for an appointment.

Research Interests

My current research is on the sociology of markets, focussing on automated trading, the use of mathematical models, and the evaluation and trading of bonds. 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.

Selected Work

Unlocking the language of structured securities.  Article in the Financial Times

Beneath all the toxic acronyms lies a basic cultural issue.  Article in the Financial Times

My books include An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets (MIT Press, 2006; publisher's note); Do Economists Make Markets? On the Performativity of Economics, co-edited with Fabian Muniesa and Lucia Siu (Princeton, 2007; publisher's note); and Material Markets: How Economic Agents are Constructed (Oxford, 2009; publisher's note).

CV and Full publication list

Downloadable working papers:

At Cermak, Donald MacKenzie, December 2014. Draft article for the London Review of Books

Be Grateful for Drizzle, Donald MacKenzie, September 2014. Draft article for the London Review of Books.

A Sociology of Algorithms: High-Frequency Trading and the Shaping of Markets, Donald MacKenzie, June 2014

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

How to Make Banks Less Fragile, Donald MacKenzie, May 2013. Draft article for the London Review of Books.

Insurgent capitalism: Island, bricolage and the re-making of finance. Donald MacKenzie & Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra Jan 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

The Credit Crisis as a Problem in the Sociology of Knowledge.  Donald MacKenzie, American Journal of Sociology, May 2011.

'The Five-Second Pause', essay for London Review of Books, Donald MacKenzie, April 2011.

Knowledge Production in Financial Markets: Credit Default Swaps, the ABX and the Subprime Crisis. Donald MacKenzie, Nov 2010

'Safer than Safe', essay review of Tett, Fool's Gold, for London Review of Books, Donald MacKenzie, June 2009

'Hedge Funds', essay for London Review of Books, Donald MacKenzie, Nov 2008

'Broker's Ear', essay for London Review of Books, Donald MacKenzie, Aug 2008

'The Credit Crisis and the End-of-the-World Trade', essay for London Review of Books, Donald MacKenzie, May 2008

'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)

'Humming the Wedding March', essay for London Review of Books. Donald MacKenzie, November 2006 (.pdf file)

'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:

PhD in Sociology