Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC


Wed, March 22, 2023
Dinner Program
Bruce G. Carruthers


Today’s economy depends on promises as millions of borrowers promise to repay their loans. How do lenders decide whose promises to trust? Initially, lenders judged a borrower’s personal character and used the social ties that connected them. But now, lenders depend on a system of pervasive quantitative scores and information. Bruce G. Carruthers, professor of sociology at Northwestern University and author most recently of The Economy of Promises, will consider where and how did this new system for evaluating trust arose and where it might be headed.

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Bruce G. Carruthers is the John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University and a long-term Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. At Northwestern, Carruthers is involved in the graduate Comparative Historical Social Science (CHSS) program and the Kellogg-Sociology Joint-PhD program. 

His current research projects include a study of the historical evolution of credit as a problem in the sociology of trust, regulatory arbitrage, what modern derivatives markets reveal about the relationship between law and capitalism, the adoption of “for-profit” features by U.S. museums, and the regulation of credit for poor people in early 20th-century America. He has had visiting fellowships at the Russell Sage Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the Library of Congress, and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, and received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He is methodologically agnostic, and does not believe that the qualitative/quantitative distinction is worth fighting over. Northwestern is Carruthers’ first teaching position. 

Carruthers has authored or co-authored five books, City of Capital: Politics and  Markets in the English Financial Revolution (Princeton, 1996), Rescuing Business: The Making of Corporate Bankruptcy Law in England and the United States (Oxford, 1998), Economy/Society: Markets, Meanings and  Social Structure (Pine Forge Press, 2000), Bankrupt: Global Lawmaking and Systemic Financial Crisis (Stanford, 2009), and Money and Credit: A Sociological Approach (Polity Press, 2010).   


Food for Thought: Podcast with Bruce Carruthers

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Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

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