Quantification and the Cultural Authority of Central Banks

Friday, June 24, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
183 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Simone Polillo, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
This paper investigates the effect of public legitimacy on monetary governance, and specifically how central bank independence entails cultural authority, how this cultural authority is constructed, and under what conditions its exercise is likely to be politically consequential. Building on new approaches to the construction of economic expertise and its effect on public policy, as well as my own work in the sociology of money as a public institution, I argue that central banks benefit not simply from efforts to concentrate economic expertise in their hands, but to gain control over the definition and contours of expertise, which implies building a relationship to outside constituencies. Counter-intuitively, I hypothesize, it is openness rather than complexity that bolsters expertise.