Transforming Uncertainty into Manageable Risks: Conventions in Financial Education

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 19:30
Oral Presentation
Daniel MAMAN, Department of Sociology and Anthropology Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Zeev ROSENHEK, Open University of Israel, Israel
One of the crucial components of the neoliberal regime is the transfer of responsibility for individuals’ financial wellbeing and security from the state and other public bodies to the individuals themselves, who are required to take responsibility for their own financial decisions and their current and future economic situation. This neoliberal project of responsibilization presumes a world in which calculative subjects can estimate and manage risks. Yet, compelled to participate in the financial sphere as a key means to assure their future economic security, individuals are exposed in fact to the fundamental uncertainty of financial markets. In this paper we examine common sense conventions formulated and disseminated by programs of financial education as discursive instruments intended to induce individuals to experience the financial sphere as a site of knowledgeable, calculable and manageable risks, rather than as a site of fundamental uncertainty. These simple and conventional causal assertions regarding the functioning of financial markets aim at providing individuals with the sense that the financial sphere is relatively predictable, and that it is possible to hedge from life risks by making choices according to accepted rules of responsible financial conduct. As they affect the mode in which laypersons experience the financial field, these conventions, and practices of financial education in general, contribute to the normalization of financial logics of risk management in everyday life and to the incorporation of the general population into the process of neoliberal financialization as responsible and calculative subjects.