1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

The Myth of Ownership: An Anthropologist Looks at the Corporate Share

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Given the scale of attention paid to the stock market and the importance of stock investment in the economy, it is surprising how much mystification attaches to the question of what corporate stock is. The predominant view is that companies are owned collectively by the owners of the shares of their stock, and this principle forms the foundation of the widely taken for granted norm that corporate firms must set the purpose of shareholder profit maximization before all else. However, the academic support for this view comes from finance economics and reflects flawed, individualistic presuppositions regarding property ownership and the nature of corporate entities. Moreover, on close look the economists’ model applies only to certain firms and is contradicted in the case of the large public companies whose shares are traded on the main stock exchanges. In this talk I explain the significance of our society’s “mythic” construction of corporate share ownership, and show how anthropology can (and should) contribute to major public debates.

  • Reception follows in Brooks Commons, 1st Floor
    Sponsored by Department of Anthropology


Event Date: 
Friday, 31 August 2012 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Ira Bashkow
Speaker Title: 
Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Virginia