The Webs They Weave
Dot-Coms and the IPO Machine
Many pundits assume that New Economy excesses, ranging from speculation to swindle, reflect a breakdown in the market order. Overcome by the “madness of crowds,” people lost their individual capacity to make rational decisions—or to control impulses (e.g., greed). Alternatively, we draw on the insights of Charles Tilly, a leading sociologist of historical change. He advises looking for “forms of order hidden in … presumed disorder” and focusing on “relationships” rather than “individual mental events.”1 Thus, we will explore the institutional situations and social ties that shaped webs of dot-com fraud.
Previously, we saw that the political debate and business lobbying around the 1996 Telecommunications Act—along with the deregulation that was enacted—greatly contributed to the hype about the revolutionary nature of Internet-related businesses. However, the burgeoning dot