Review by Martin Savransky

Martin Savransky, whose writing on the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead has been particularly helpful for me in my work, has kindly reviewed Lived Economies of Default for Science as Culture. The full review can be accessed on the journal site. Here’s an extract: Because of the interest in emotions that the book displays by eclectically combining in practice […] read more…

Interview for New Books in Critical Theory

My interview with Dave O’Brien about Lived Economies of Default can be accessed here. We chat about where the book came from, some of the themes of the book – including the role of devices, the theoretical architecture that underpins it – as well as some of the things I’m working on at the moment. read more…

Read a sample chapter

Routledge have kindly made Chapter 4, ‘The Strategic Management of Affect: Venturing inside the collections company’ Open Access. Further details here. read more…
Out now

Out now

Lived Economies of Default has now been published. Available to order on Amazon. Or order it for your library. read more…

Overview

Consumer credit borrowing – using credit cards, store cards and personal loans – is an important and routine part of many of our lives. But what happens when these everyday forms of borrowing go ‘bad’, when people start to default on their loans and when they cannot, or will not, repay? It is this poorly […] read more…
The lure of consumer credit

The lure of consumer credit

‘A curious and sort of subconscious temptation’  |  The first chapter explores how a device-oriented approach to the study of economic life might help us understand why people’s consumer credit borrowing practices become unmanageable. It focuses in particular on the archetypal consumer credit device: the credit card. This mundane monetary object, it is argued, has long […] read more…
Debt collection

Debt collection

At the very centre of the book is the everyday business of the contemporary debt collection industry — a part of our contemporary societies and economies that many thousands of people have to deal with on a near daily basis and yet whose work is often hidden from view. In opening up this domain for more public scrutiny, the […] read more…
Living with market attachments

Living with market attachments

In the fold of default  |  In Chapter 2 we encounter the technologies of the debt collection industry for the first time. If many of the devices assembled around borrowing, as documented in Chapter 1, are concerned with the easing of life, then those that come into play when an overdue debt needs to be repaid […] read more…
Money

Money

A key question the book explores, in particular in Chapter 1, is the relationship between credit and money and, more particularly, between credit and monetary objects. This is a relationship that is not as straightforward as might at first appear. Often it is assumed that the functions of particular monetary forms are quite separate from […] read more…
Calculation

Calculation

How do people come to make economic decisions? This central question, one that has occupied economists as much as sociologists, is explored anew in the book by exploring the relationship between calculation and affect, while also attending to the mediating role played by particular devices within markets. On one level, an argument is advanced that we need to understand […] read more…
A history of debt collection

A history of debt collection

The discovery and capture of affect  |  Chapter 3 outlines how the collections industry first ‘discovered’ and then began to work out how best to ‘capture’ affect. It begins by moving far back in time, to examine the historical antecedents of contemporary collections practices and to see what they reveal about logics that may, or […] read more…
Experimentation

Experimentation

Debt collectors have long conducted informal experiments with the debtors they are dealing with. As I explore in Chapter 3, in the early days of consumer credit collection, in which individual collectors often dealing with individual debtors (in the US in particular in the 1940s and 1950s; in the UK much later), this involved practices like trying […] read more…
Attachment

Attachment

Lived Economies of Default is about the relations of credit default. That is to say, how exactly the various actors (including both people and things) that make up the various encounters between borrower and lender, defaulter and collector, are related and made to relate to one another. This interest is gathered together in the focus on […] read more…
Venturing inside the collections company

Venturing inside the collections company

The strategic management of affect | Chapter 4 explores the sometimes strange world of consumer collections in part through the eyes of collections call centre workers, arguing that they too can be seen as a ‘market devices’, of central importance to the contemporary collections industry. The chapter’s analysis begins with a single collections conversation. It […] read more…
Affect

Affect

For those not familiar with what affect is and how it is understood, it can be broadly broadly defined as an interest in the intimate, bodily and emotional dimensions of life. For a long time this was not an area that troubled sociologists, given that it seems on the face of it an area that might instead trouble […] read more…
Devices

Devices

At the core of the book is a focus on the devices of consumer credit and credit default. These include the credit card and the credit statement, the focus of Chapter 1, the debt collections letter, which features in Chapters 2 and 5 in particular, as well as the collections worker him/herself (Chapter 3). While in the book […] read more…
The creditor, the collector, the collections letter

The creditor, the collector, the collections letter

The amplification of calculative opacity | Chapter 5 further pursues the issues examines in Chapter 4 by focusing on creditors’ own internal collections processes, while also opening up for view another central collections technology: the collections letter. In so doing, a key area it explores is the performative enactment of a separation between practices of […] read more…
Science and Technology Studies

Science and Technology Studies

A major influence on the methods and theoretical architecture that are used to study default and debt collection is the sub-discipline of Science and Technology Studies (STS). Originally this field limited itself to the study of scientists and scientific endeavour. Early STS scholars could therefore be found in places like laboratories, watching as scientific facts were proved and disproved, […] read more…
Debtors’ prisons

Debtors’ prisons

One of the tasks the book undertakes is to understand what we can learn from how contemporary attempts at ‘market attachment‘, as I call them, compare to their historical antecedents. This leads one pretty quickly to the debtors’ prison, which until the late 19th/early 20th century, were widely used as a sanction for debtors unable or unwilling […] read more…
Economisation

Economisation

A major influence on the book is what I call, after Koray Çalışkan and Michel Callon, the ‘economisation programme’. This is an approach to the study of economic life that has sought to examine exactly how things become ‘economic’ in the first place, drawing particular inspiration from Science and Technology Studies and the related Actor-Network […] read more…
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