UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Capital ownership in contemporary financialization : theorizing the new regime of property relations Gibadullina, Albina


The past four decades have seen a significant re-organization in the underlying structure of capitalism, characterized in part by the ascendance of finance. This thesis examines financialization ontologically and epistemologically and suggests that one of the most noteworthy yet understudied outcomes of financialization in the United States has been the establishment of a class of financiers as the new owners of capital. In the introduction, I demonstrate that the share of US corporations directly owned by American finance has grown from 3 percent in 1945 to at least 62 percent in 2018 and propose that US-based financialization should be understood as a new regime of property relations, where financiers increasingly own the means of production rather than extend credit to industrial capitalists. As finance has become immensely powerful, Chapter 2 examines how the discipline of human geography has approached financial questions since the 1980s. Through the analysis of Web of Science bibliometric data and oral histories conducted with 23 key actors in the field, Chapter 2 illustrates the enduring dominance of the UK as a center of knowledge creation and dissemination for the subfield. It also describes how financial geography underwent five distinct intellectual turns, evolving into a polycentric and pluralist sub-discipline. Finally, this chapter emphasizes the lasting influence that the 2008 financial crisis had on the subfield by popularizing financial topics in geography and amplifying geographical scholarship on financialization within the broader social sciences. Chapter 3 shifts the mode of inquiry to examine how the US financial sector was transformed in the past four decades to attain its immense profitability. To do so, the chapter systematically examines the changing sources of income and the composition of assets held by US financial firms. Through the analysis of US macro-economic data, this chapter documents that American finance has grown immensely profitable because it abandoned lending as its primary activity in favour of asset management and ownership. The conclusion discusses how the shift of US finance from a lender to an owner of capital deprives the real economy of interest-bearing capital, which consequently undermines the future basis of profit in finance.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International