The more things change… Institutional maintenance as justification work in the credit rating industry
This article combines the theory of justification developed by Boltanski and Thévenot with the concept of institutional work to analyse how actors’ discursive engagement can lead to the maintenance of legitimacy. In controversies over the regulation of credit rating, actors perform institutional work based on the use and arrangement of several forms of legitimacy in order to promote a certain view of justice. A longitudinal qualitative study of the justifications produced by stakeholders in credit rating between 2000 and 2010 reveals three different mechanisms that lead to institutional maintenance. The first is a straightforward case of confirmation work in which the actors repeat or reformulate the existing regulatory arrangement or simply refuse to take part in the debate. The second involves qualifying objects according to the existing concept of regulation. In the third, reference to the model of the circular figure can explain the mechanism that prevents the controversy from ending: the actors’ inability to resolve a debate involving several orders of morality is precisely what leads to the reaffirmation of the foundations underlying the legitimacy of credit rating regulation.
Copyright (c) 2012 Benjamin Taupin
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