Coping with Excess

Coping with Excess

How Organizations, Communities and Individuals Manage Overflows

Edited by Barbara Czarniawska and Orvar Löfgren

What does a stockbroker in Istanbul navigating the rush of incoming trading figures have in common with a mother in Stockholm trying to organize a growing pile of baby clothes? They are both coping with excess or overflow. This book explores the ways in which institutions, corporations and individuals define and manage situations of ‘too much’ – too much information, too many choices, too many commodities or too many tasks.

Chapter 6: Taking Michel Callon to the Istanbul Stock Exchange: frames, overflows and storytelling

Emre Tarim

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, organisation studies, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


In this chapter, I describe the role of storytelling as a framing device for helping to manage information flows in financial markets. In doing so, I draw on Michel Callon’s conceptual discussion of the importance of framing to the success of market-based exchange relationships. Callon has argued that frames imposed on phenomena and their relationships can disentangle things and render them calculable. To summarize his arguments, I begin with Callon’s discussion on framing in financial markets (1998b, 1999), in order to highlight the neglected role of storytelling in the framing of market phenomena and overflow management in financial markets. I then take this theoretical conversation with Callon to Istanbul, where I have conducted fieldwork research on the ways in which investors and brokerage firms have made sense of financial markets. I thereby demonstrate how storytelling has served to manage flows of information by generating and maintaining shared frames and interpretive templates (Czarniawska, 2008), and how these frames were subjected to occasional overflows. Callon has suggested that a market is a coordination device by which individuals can enter and leave the economic exchange as strangers (1998b, 1999). Frames, a notion Callon borrowed from Goffman (1974), can be seen as brackets or stabilizing devices which create ‘a clear and precise boundary’ (Callon, 1999: 187) among connections to be considered, and connections which can be ignored by actors in their calculations on market exchanges.

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