Debt to Society: Accounting for Life under Capitalism

debt to societyMiranda Joseph‘s important and interesting book Debt to Society: Accounting for Life under Capitalism is a timely scholarly endeavour to understand, what I once termed Neoliberal Pauperism. Joseph’s research focuses on one of the key practices related to debt’ control – accounting and quantification. It studies modes of accounting as they are used to create, sustain, or transform social relations. Envisioning accounting broadly to include financial accounting, managerial accounting of costs and performance, the constitution of gendered norms regarding finance, and the calculation of “debts to society” owed by criminals, Joseph argues that accounting technologies have a powerful effect on social dynamics by attributing credits and debts. From sovereign bonds and securitized credit card debt to student debt and mortgages, debt and accounting structure our lives. Exploring central components of neoliberalism, from incarceration to university management and personal finance , the book demonstrates the uneven distribution of accountability within our society and exposes how ubiquitous the forces of accounting have become in shaping all aspects of  indebted lives.



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