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Abstract

Despite constant scandals in the banking industry and the ever-changing cycle of economic booms and busts, trends in Wall Street recruiting have shown that young graduates from top universities are entering finance more than ever. Most studies around job recruiting focus on the hiring practices through the lenses of firms and recruiters. However, through this ethnography, I follow the recruiting experiences of 12 fraternity brothers from the University of Chicago to demonstrate the social embeddedness of the economic markets they come to be a part of creating, as well as the strong conflation of “cultural fit” with technical competence on the job. I show how fraternity brothers are able to leverage their organization’s deep alumni networks to close the information gap on the job market with their social position as a fraternity brother. Through a brief history of the fraternity, as a social institution, I demonstrate how being part of a fraternal organization uniquely positions brothers to gain access to social connections and information that are vital for entry into Wall Street. By drawing comparisons between the highly social process of fraternity recruitment and the heavy social networking in finance recruiting, I argue that fraternity life provides a central hub for social training of young finance recruits and serves as a pre-screening filter for socially adaptive individuals into finance.

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