Living in Debt: Households Narratives in the Chilean Credit Retail-Led Expansion
Credit expansion has had a broader impact in how socio-economic relationships have been negotiated and assessed in Chilean society. From this data emerge moral beliefs about when and how to use credit; survivor narratives to and thanks to credit; diverse perceptions about how society works and how the collective and the individual must be understood in society; personal and familiar narratives of social mobility with a changing and unprecedented view of poverty and middle class aspirations; a process of re-shaping of the subjective experience and social assessment of economic inequalities; accounts of opposed rationalities between debtors and lenders, and between credit users and financial education providers; and an ambivalent moral assessment about credit itself.
This paper relies on data collected in 2015 from 40 in-depth interviews with Chilean head of households from lower and lower-middle income groups, and also in statistical analysis which allows to deploy overall trends regarding debt, credit and microfinances. I pay special attention to the “post-industrial working class” and “micro-entrepreneurs”, the last groups entering the credit expansion.