9th January 2013

New in Economy and Society: Metamorphoses of credit: pastiche production and the ordering of mass payment behavior

Is it possible to talk about innovation and imitation as general and complementary properties of markets, independently of concrete organizational conditions and institutional ranking in international competitive arenas? That is the main problem addressed by this article, which highlights the interplay between innovation and imitation on the basis of an ethnographic case-study of retail credit services. It presents a six-stage metamorphosing circle—starting from conception to formatting, promotion, adaptation, transmutation and, finally, internal supervision—as part of an institutionally bounded mode of production based on copy/paste and updating procedures. Such a mode is called ‘pastiche production’ and it may be considered as a less innovative variant of bricolage, more suited to those players in advanced economies which mediate between global financial markets and national retail credit markets. The conceptual separation between innovation and imitation is thus reconsidered, as the two notions seem to be deeply entangled in practice, in the sense that what appears like innovation at the national level may basically be an imitative propensity at an international or global scale. Moreover: the idea that innovation and imitation represent core principles of social organization (cf. Tarde) is also questioned in relation to modern finance, as they appear less like causes and more like consequences of institutional practices and governance procedures designed to organize mass payment behaviour capable of generating regular and substantial cash flows.

To link to this article:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03085147.2012.668782