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A neurolinguistic approach to performativity in economics

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  • Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten

Abstract

In recent sociological studies of markets, especially financial markets, researchers have argued that economics is performative (MacKenzie, Callon et al.). By this they refer to the observation that theories such as the Black-Scholes formula do not simply describe reality, but contributed to the regulatory creation of financial markets in which the agents started to adopt behavioral patterns that correspond to the theory, also relying on artefacts that have been created by the originators of the theory. This notion of performativity fits also other recent uses of language theory in economics, such as the theory of organizational forms in organizational ecology (Carroll and Hannan) or John Searle's theory of institutions. The paper builds on this, especially Searle's approach, and explores the underlying cognitive operations. It is argued that performativity builds on the human capacity to generate new meanings from existing concepts. This is elaborated in the theory of conceptual blending that has been developed by Fauconnier and Turner. For example, blends are a typical phenomenon in the emergence of new business models, such as in the dotcom bubble. The theory of conceptual blending can be based on neuroscientific insights into the operations of the human brain, corresponding to Searle's proposal to ground institutions in neurophysiological dispositions.

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  • Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten, 2009. "A neurolinguistic approach to performativity in economics," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 123, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:123
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Searle's theory of institutions; financial markets; emergence of novelty; conceptual blending; neural theory of metaphor;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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