Keywords: Financial Markets; New Economic Sociology; Corporate Governance; Shareholder Value and Institutional Investors; Globalization and the Diversity of Capitalisms.
The paper presents a review of the literature on the sociology of financial markets. According to the neo-institutionalist approach within the theoretical perspective of new economic sociology, the first part of the paper emphasizes the role of culture in shaping economic behaviour and underlines the ways in which political power influences both economic action and national financial institutions. The second part presents three sets of empirical studies. The first focuses on the effects of social networks on financial decision making. The second describes the increasing power of shareholders in the corporate governance of firms. The last examines the effects of globalization of financial markets and of the change in banking industry strategies on the varieties of capitalism theoretical approach. Finally, we point out that in order to understand the dynamics and the effects of financial markets on economic activities, scholars should take into account social dimensions such as culture, political power and social networks.