Making sense of irrealis in the Global Financial Crisis

Bernard McKenna*, David Rooney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyses the discourse of financial media reports and commentary during the Global Financial Crisis from 2007 to 2009 using an inductive methodology. Contemporary finance capitalism is understood as being founded on irrealis (unreal) products. The analysis reveals how irrealis is construed as realis. Crucial to this is the infusion of macro-level Schumpeterian ideological discourses within the meso-discourse of organizational practice. Also fundamental to finance capitalism were the black-box models of economic behavior and mimetic practices that normalized unrealistic financial performance ontologically, and socially irresponsible and unjust outcomes axiologically. For a little time, the financial press recognized this moral and social disconnectedness. However, although finance capitalism catastrophically failed, there is no sense of a new epistemological or moral foundation having been created.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-137
Number of pages15
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

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