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Léna Pellandini-Simányi

http://usi.to/voa

Biography

Dr. Pellandini-Simányi is Assistant Professor in the Institute of Marketing and Communication Management. After studying Economics and Marketing (MSc), she earned her PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Previously, she taught at the Sociology Department of LSE, and held a Swiss National Science Foundation Marie Heim-Vögtlin Fellowship at the Institute of Management and Organization, USI, and an Assistant Professorship at  ELTE, Budapest. 

Dr. Pellandini-Simányi's research is in economic sociology, looking at the interrelations between markets and moralities. Her work examines both the consumer and the organizational side of markets, drawing on performativity, practice theory and consumer culture theory, and has focused on financial markets, debt and political consumerism. She is author of the book Consumption Norms and Everyday Ethics (reviewed in Sociology and in Consumption, Markets and Culture) and her work has appeared in Economy and Society, Organization Studies, the Journal of Consumer CultureSociology, the Sociological Review, the British Journal of Sociology,  the Journal of Cultural Economy, and Cultural Studies, among others. 

Her current research projects look at the financialization of everyday life (individual grant, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation), the development of the mortgage market and the financial crisis in Hungary (principal investigator, funded by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund) and shifting notions of the consumer in post-crisis financial consumer regulation in Switzerland, the UK and Hungary (individual grant, funded by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences).

Dr. Pellandini-Simányi is commitee member of the American Sociological Association and serves on the expert panel of Global Action Plan UK 'Goals for Good' project, focusing on sustainability and wellbeing. Previously, she worked in the social innovation and social needs program of the Young Foundation think tank, London. 

Research

I study how new markets and novel consumer and organizational practices emerge. I am particularly interested in normalization and legitimation: in how practices that were once considered morally wrong or weird, or were not even considered because they simply did not exist, gradually become seen as normal. Lending to subprime borrowers, acquiring risky financial products, or the growing consideration of environmental aspects by firms and consumers are examples that my work covers. I use mixed methods (interviews, discourse analysis and surveys), covering multiple actors: consumers, firms and regulators.

Creation of new markets

This strand focuses on how new markets and organizational fields are created. My recent work examines this question through the creation of postsocialist mortgage markets, combining institutional theory with the marketization research program and performativity approaches.

Read our paper in Organization Studies on the making of the Hungarian mortgage market here; my paper on how to integrate multiple actors (states, consumers and borrowers) into the study of new markets using the marketization research program, and look at the special issue ‘Debt trails: Following relations of debt across borrowers, organizations and states’ that I am editing with Zsuzsanna Vargha in the Journal of Cultural Economy, which evolved from the similarly titled workshop

Financialization of everyday life

This strand focuses on why risky financial products and debt spread among households over the last decades in Hungary and in the US. One of the most influential explanations, called the ‘financialization of everyday life’, suggests that novel financial product use reflects changes in people’s everyday financial culture or attitudes. An alternative explanation, explored by this project, is that these products spread without such an attitudinal change: people did not become more entrepreneurial, risk- and debt-tolerant. The increasing inconsistency between people’s attitudes and their financial products was made possible by (1) financial organizations’ new selling devices, product offering and their efforts to reformulate of the ‘ordinary household product’ category and by (2) social processes of conformity – people assessing products based on the behaviour of others rather than their qualities. Read our papers about why we think these explanations work better herehere and here.

Ethical consumption

This strand looks at the proliferation of ethical/political consumerism. It examines why people engage in ethical/political consumerism as well as the barriers to ethical consumption, particularly outside Western contexts. Read our papers on Brazil and Chile here, on Eastern Europe here or check out the general theory here. Combining the study of ethical consumption and consumer finance, I am also working on how financial instruments, such as mortgages, encourage and lock-in consumption-intensive pathways, which you can read about here.

  

Changing consumption norms

This strand looks at how consumption norms - ideas of what, how much and by whom is acceptable to consume – change over time. For example, if your grandmother thought that one should always be pretty, but you think that torn jeans and tattoos are just fine; or if your parents thought that girls should play with dolls, but you just bought a toy truck for your niece – these are changes in consumption norms. Read my book on why and how consumption norms change here; my practice-theoretical account of how consumption norms transmit ethical visions of a good life here; my article on how people manage their friendships with richer/poorer friends and how they inadvertently increase social segregation in the process here; and our article on how values and consumption changed after socialism here. If you are interested in norms from a theoretical perspective and/or like Bourdieu, click here.

Formation of financial expectations

This strand looks at how economic actors form and maintain expectations under conditions of uncertainty, focusing on institutional and cultural factors. My work explores the cultural narratives and institution-specific prediction routines of banks, regulators and consumers that underpinned optimistic expectations before the financial crisis and allowed them to be maintained despite counter-information.

Read our paper ‘Spatializing the future: financial expectations, EU convergence and the Eastern European Forex mortgage crisis' on how banks and regulators formed expectations; and 'The Financialization of Everyday Life or the Domestication of Finance? How Mortgages Engage With Borrowers’ Temporal Horizons, Relationships, and Rationality in Hungary' on how consumers did.

Competence areas