Donald MacKenzie


University of Edinburgh

Donald MacKenzie is a professor of sociology at the University of Edinburgh. Born in Inverness, Scotland, he received his BSc in Applied Mathematics in 1972, and his PhD in Sociology in 1978, both from the University of Edinburgh. He has held teaching posts at the University of Edinburgh since 1975, and has held visiting positions at various times at Deakin University, the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, Harvard University and the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte. His most recent visting position was a fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Research at Drexel University. He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2004.

Although he began his research in the sociology of science, Professor MacKenzie has most recently focused his research on the sociology of financial markets. His work focuses on the performativity of financial models, or the ways in which the models of financial markets influence, and eventually become, the markets themselves, as traders and bankers use the models in their day-to-day work. His highly acclaimed book An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets, won the 2007 British International Studies Association’s International Political Economy Group (IPEG) Book Prize. His earlier book Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance was co-awarded the Robert K. Merton Award of the American Sociological Association, and he was outright awarded the same prize for his book Mechanizing Proof: Computing, Risk, and Trust. Professor MacKenzie continues to publish articles, with a special focus currently on the impact of financial models on the Financial Crisis of 2007-08.