Debt is a Product of Power Relations

Debt is a product of power relations which inherently exhibits capturing and dominating mechanisms of subordination, appropriation and exploitation in various societal, political and economic fields. Debt is a degrading institutional tool which not merely controls and masters labor in advance, it also self- and socially estranging, and entangling the indebted person solely into the ropes of economistic valuation.
debt to societyThis definition of debt articulated by me, could be an intellectual point of departure to take a look at a timely and interesting book Debt to Society: Accounting for Life under Capitalism by Miranda Joseph. This book is an important scholarly endeavour to understand, what I term – Neoliberal Pauperism which is a state of dragging-down indebtedness disguised as a fictitious “trickled-down” wealth. 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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2 Responses to Debt is a Product of Power Relations

  1. Pingback: “… Until Debt Tear us Apart” // Debt is a Product of Power Relations | Economic Sociology and Political Economy

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