Enacting Dismal Science

Part of the series Perspectives from Social Economics pp 29-52


Performativity Rationalized

  • Francesco GualaAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods, University of Milan


Economic sociologists have been criticized for using the term ‘performativity’ in a way that seems unfaithful to Austin’s notion. In this paper, I defend this usage against Uskali Mäki’s challenge, in particular, his claim that economic theories cannot constitute illocutionary acts. To counter this claim, I argue that performative speech acts play primarily a coordinating role by manipulating agents’ beliefs, and this is the same role that theories like the Black–Scholes model of option pricing play in financial markets, if MacKenzie’s historical reconstruction is right.