Emma Barrett
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Cazenove & Co.
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This chapter shows how the elite stockbrokers Cazenove responded to the Big Bang deregulation of the financial sector, using social networks and inherited practices to navigate what was an ostensibly technical and modernising revolution. The Thatcher administration’s reform of the London Stock Exchange was an economic enterprise intended to end restrictive practices, open the City to competition and, Survival Capitalism argues, secure the mechanism for selling gilts. On the face of it, a more open meritocratic financial sector marked the ‘death of gentlemanly capitalism’ and coalesced with a political agenda for entrepreneurialism and popular capitalism. Yet this case study shows how Cazenove’s culture drove its strategy, that privilege and hierarchy were sustained by influential cross-sector networks, and that there was resistance to change, even though technological change and new financial instruments were embraced as part of a strategy which mixed innovation with tradition. Essentially, elite networks persisted in the 1980s deregulated economy as established relationships were used to optimum effect and became more important after Big Bang. A more mutually supportive relationship between finance and industry than has hitherto been imagined is also demonstrated. By showing how a modernising revolution was navigated using social networks and traditions, this chapter restores the role of culture to financial history. It contributes to a body of work in twentieth-century British history which challenges the perception that neoliberal ideas were consistently applied under Thatcherism and complicates the notion of a coherent Thatcherite project.

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‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang

Culture, contingency and capital in the making of the 1980s financial revolution

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