AbstractThis article discusses the observation theory developed by Elena Esposito, especially emphasising her critique of embeddedness. My understanding is that observation theory, if pushed to its limits, implies a never ending, infinite regression of meaning, cannot help to fully understand market behaviour. This is true for ‘scientific observers’ but also for ‘field observers’, e.g.., economic agents. Recent empirical findings indicate that the latter deal with (semantic, ontological and strategic) uncertainty, which is amplified by hyper-conductive, ICT-boosted, global markets, by drastically simplifying their strategies, adaptively segmenting and re-segmenting their epistemic, social “observation” space and creatively exploiting heuristics, emotions and social information. These findings seem to be more compatible with the idea of a continuous process of dis/re-embedding economic action. I argue that the involvement vs. detachment analogy formulated by Norbert Elias in his sociology of science studies could help us to develop an observation theory that does not merge individual and social dimensions and is more compatible with empirical evidence.
Keywords: Financial markets, observation theory, embeddedness, hyper-conductivity, Norbert Elias