Dissertation Abstracts

Metrics of the State: For a Sociology of Brazilian Sovereign Credit Risk Classification

Author: Ana Carolina Bichoffe, acbichoffe@gmail.com
Department: Political Science
University: Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brazil
Supervisor: Roberto Grün
Year of completion: 2017
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Keywords: Credit risk classification , Governmentality , Financial devices , Performativity
Areas of Research: Economy and Society , Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty , Sociotechnics, Sociological Practice


This thesis deals with a set of questions and an analytical perspective that are relatively recent in the frameworks of contemporary international economic and financial sociologies and is underrepresented, at least at a first glance, in the national institutional picture. The research addresses the profound transformations that financial metrics and classifications have produced, at different rates, in the contemporary Sovereign States. The enunciation of classifications, metrics and statistics as a reference for the construction and justification of realities in different scenarios in the contemporary social life, reverberates even more when it comes to the economic and financial dimensions of Sovereign States. Thus, the proposition of these devices in this specific space is based on the justification of two orders: the objective and efficient orientation of decision-making and the minimization of the implied risks of this decision. Thus, these devices may be understood as intentional instruments of creation and implementation of cultural and political order, that is, systems of rules that facilitate the coordination and cooperation of social actors in situations of uncertainty that determine the distribution of costs and benefits of collective action. Based on the theoretical conceptions of governmentality and performativity, the research constructed a narrative about how an abstract and polysemic conception of the notion of risk culminates in an objective proposition of sovereign credit risk. The singular dimension addressed in the research is that the emergence of this modern notion of risk is simultaneously accompanied by metric devices of classification, evaluation and control. In the Brazilian case, this key between the ideal of credit risk and the classification devices echoes in the tensions and disputes that arise in the economic-financial space. The importance of the state in the governmentality of devices is undeniable. By inducing markets to use risk rating metrics, given their regulation role, states become targets of these same devices as they enter the sovereign bond market. Thus, in addition to the credit risk narrative, another contribution of the study is the construction of a reference framework on the institutionalization of the Public Debt Securities Market in Brazil. The research proposes a way to reflect on how the notions of credit risk, metrics and finances have become fundamental institutions for contemporary states.

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