The Political Voice of Everyday Finance – Debtor and Creditor Organizations in Post-Crisis Financial Regulation

Monday, 11 July 2016: 15:11
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Marcus WOLF, University of Bremen, Germany
Debt and credit have been central motors of social change throughout the history of capitalism. In the course of the financialization of everyday life in the 20th century, conflicts from these new market spheres become visible in the political arena. In my contribution, I want to examine the activities of debtor and creditor organizations in the re-regulation of financial markets after the financial crisis of 2008.

Research on financialization and financial regulation leaves at least two major issues insufficiently addressed that deserve closer scrutiny. Firstly, scholars of financialization have yet to systematically consider the political repercussions of financialization, especially the effects of credit expansion and increasing indebtedness for both civil society and the political arena. Secondly, Scholarship on financial regulation, has for long underestimated the role of civil society actors. This is especially true for consumer debtor and creditor organizations. The former represent indebted individuals’ claims with regard to ‘predatory lending practices’ or high household debt. Creditor organizations represent individuals holding assets in financial markets.

Taking the example of consumer organizations in financial markets, I will ask how the expansion of debt and credit in households has changed the ways in which civil society actors act in the regulatory field of global finance and why certain types of consumer organizations were included in reform discussions. Using the examples of two EU and two US consumer organizations, (Better Finance and BEUC for the EU; Consumer Action and NAIC for the US), I will analyze how former institutional outsiders took part in the shaping of new consumerist reform discourses and which parts of their suggestions were integrated into reforms.

My paper will thus contribute to a better understanding of the organizational dynamics of credit and debt in the political sphere.