Dr Leon Wansleben

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I joined the LSE in 2014 as an Assistant Professor. My main areas of interest include economic sociology (in particular the study of financial markets), the sociology of knowledge and expertise, and political sociology.

After completing a BA in Philosophy (Witten/Herdecke) and an Msc in Sociology (LSE), the first main research project I conducted during my Phd at the University of Constance was an ethnographic and interview-based study of experts in international banks. It resulted in the book Cultures of Expertise in Global Currency Markets (Routledge, 2013). In this book, I argue that in order to understand the role of experts in financial markets, it is important to contextualize their work within ‘cultures of expertise.’ These cultures describe the identities and practices of groups in the markets that face similar structural conditions and share orientations and interests. In the book, I identify a shift in the foreign exchange markets from a dominant ‘cambist culture,’ cultivated by proprietary traders in banks, to a dominant ‘institutional investor culture.’ The research has won a dissertation prize from the University of Constance; some of its results are documented in my article ‘Financial Analysts,’ published in the Handbook of the Sociology of Finance (Oxford UP, 2012), and in my ‘Consistent Forecasting vs. Anchoring of Market Stories: Two Cultures of Modeling and Model Use in a Bank’ (Science in Context, Vol. 27, No. 4).

Prior to joining the LSE, I held a post-doc position at the University of Lucerne, where I developed a second major research project (funded by the Swiss National Fund), which will continue to occupy me during the next years. Its main topic is the transformation of central banking and monetary policies in Great Britain and Switzerland since the 1970s. With that study, I aim to connect three critical issues in contemporary sociology—the study of financialization, research of political transformations since the 1970s, and the study of economics as a form of governance. I see central banks as being at the centre of these developments: Arguably, they have facilitated financialization processes and have successfully separated their policies from other economic policies by drawing on ‘scientific’ decision procedures.

This project also touches upon historical sociology, which fascinates me more generally— especially as a project of re-thinking modernity from global perspectives.

Selected Publications


Cultures of-Expertise cover|Wansleben, Leon. 2013. Cultures of Expertise in Global Currency Markets. London: Routledge.  For details click on image right:


Wansleben, Leon. 2014. "Consistent Forecasting vs. Anchoring of Market Stories: Two Cultures of Modeling and Model Use in a Bank.” Science in Context 27/4.

Wansleben, Leon. 2013. “‘Dreaming with BRICs.’ Innovating the classificatory regimes of international finance.” Journal of Cultural Economy 6/4: 453-71.

Book chapters

Wansleben, Leon. 2012. "Financial Analysts." Pp. 250-71 in Handbook of the Sociology of Finance, edited by Karin Knorr Cetina and Preda Alex. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


 Leon Wansleben