Financial Phantasmagoria: Corporate Image-Work in Times of Crisis
19 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2010
Date Written: January 5, 2010
Over the period January-December 2008 we collected 241 separate advertisements from 61 financial institutions published in the Financial Times. Reading across the ensemble of ads for themes and evocative images, sketching an outline in symbolic space as it were, provides an impression of the financial imaginaries created by these organizations as the global financial crisis unfolded. In using the term ‘phantasmagoria’ we move beyond its colloquial sense of a set of strange images designed to dazzle, towards the more technical connotation used by Rancière (2004) who suggested that words and images can offer a trace of an overall determining set-up if they are torn from their obviousness so they become phantasmagoric figures. The latter connotation encourages a search for dissonances, juxtapositions and contradictions in particular imaginaries and is thus close to Jameson’s (1998, 2007) notion of dialectical criticism. Such an approach is a response to the realization that too much has been ceded too readily to powerful naturalizing forces which have made certain aspects of the recent period of ‘capitalism in crisis’ very hard to question.
Keywords: financial crisis, political economy, images, finance capitalism
JEL Classification: G20, M30, N20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation