Abstract: The segment of empirical reality chosen for the presentation is dedicated to ethical or sustainable banking. Though rather small still, this segment has been expanding rapidly. Contrary to conventional banking, this segment has constantly been gaining legitimacy since the collapse of global finance. Building on the assumption that institutions do not only depend on the acceptance and consent of actors involved, but that they may as well be challenged by them. Based on interviews, the conditions of reflexive distancing are reconstructed in terms of sociocultural dispositions, professional-biographical developments, and specific forms of criticism. Different forms of criticism are understood as historically rooted, being condensed in the interviewees’ biographies. Finally, historical dependence and the distinction between artistic critique and social critique are related to the empirical cases presented. Not least, the waves of criticism which transform and shape capitalism and the basis of its legitimization are included in research on ethical banks.