Olivia Nicol

Olivia Nicol is a PhD candidate in sociology at Columbia University. Her dissertation focuses on attribution of responsibility for the financial crisis in the United States (2007-2010). She analyzes both media excerpts and interviews to explore the production of – and response to – a discourse of accusation for the crisis. She built a dataset of 5600 blaming ties derived from three main national newspapers (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today), which she analyzes combining network, statistical and textual analysis. She also conducted 33 in-depth interviews in three major banks in Wall Street from Fall 2008 to Spring 2010. She shows that in a complex and collective failure, such as the financial crisis, a multiplicity of actors can be blamed, in a never ending causal chain. This situation is socially explosive, and paves the way for an intense blame game, which finds its resolution with the establishment of a party as the most guilty of all. A blame game is a mechanism to reestablish a disrupted social order.

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