The Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion (IMTFI) and the Center for Organizational Research (COR) presents a conversation with Martha Lampland and Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra on their new/forthcoming books:


"The Science of Commodification in Hungary or, What Kind of Infrastructure in Required to Assess the Value of Labor" by Martha Lampland

How does one quantify the value of an event or put a price on a possibility? This problematic drove mid-20th century work scientists in Hungary to devise scientific means of assessing the value of labor. European work science, a field predating Taylorism and scientific management in the U.S., focused initially in the latter half of the 19th c. on energy expenditure and bodily movement, but grew in the 20th to encompass occupational psychology and business management. In the 1920s and ‘30s, agrarian work scientists in Hungary intent on increasing labor productivity at large manorial estates (latifundia) devoted themselves to figuring out how to assess the value of labor at a time when there was no labor market in agriculture and virtually all wages were paid in kind. They faced numerous difficulties collecting data and enrolling wealthy landowners in their scientific project. The situation changed when the Communist Party took power in 1948, at which time their advice was solicited to help create a scientifically vetted wage scheme for cooperative farms. As a consequence, Lampland has argued, the commodification of labor—the process whereby a wide variety of tasks conducted by disparate groups in many places were rendered commensurate for the purposes of hiring employees and paying them for their services—was achieved under the tutelage of a socialist party/state, rendering market processes superfluous.  

"Automating Markets: Infrastructures, Engineers, and the Re-Making of Kinship in Global Finance" by Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra

What happens when we imagine markets through the lens of relations? One possibility is to evoke metaphors of kinship and family as ways of understanding the elements of markets and their changes though time. This is precisely the perspective adopted in this book, where Pardo-Guerra explores the automation of British and American finance by examining how entrepreneurial engineers changed stock markets from a space of face-to-face interactions to domain algorithms and high speed electronic signals. By analyzing how market technologists created systems that altogether changed the organizations they inhabited, the book also shows how novel relations emerged within the market, substituting old structures of exchange, trust and belonging with new devices and techniques. The process was not seamless, though, and involved struggles for control, legitimacy, and resources within and out with the market and its many organizations.

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