For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Finance, Figuration, and the Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street"

by Appel, Hannah (2014)


If the imaginative project of capitalism comes to life through processes of figuration, it is the white male figure of the banker, the trader, or the broker who lends imaginative cohesion to what we might otherwise consider a diverse set of practices and people scattered unevenly across landscapes. However, as both Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing have argued, attention to figuration can also expand the fields of possibility, allowing us to reimagine both pasts and futures of finance. This article thinks through finance and figuration with the Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street. Focusing on Cathy O’Neil—a former hedge fund “quant”— the article follows the significance of gender and other habitations of subjectivity for finance insiders-turned-activists. Attention to Alt Banking participants demonstrates the unpredictability of the actors and forms of expertise we have come to associate with capitalism’s contemporary center, and traces the repurposing of their expertise from the private pursuit of profit to the intersubjective pursuit of democratized finance.

Key Passage



Occupy Movement, Gender, Finance Sector, Gendered Labour, Activism, Profit


Political Theory, Capitalism

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