This book took shape over the course of many years during my time at the hugely inspirational sociology department at Goldsmiths, University of London. Particular thanks go to Paul Filmer, Celia Lury and Alberto Toscano, who acted as model advisers and mentors and whose encouragement, support and guidance were central to the development of major aspects of the research. Many thanks also to Franck Cochoy and Mike Michael for their detailed comments on the thesis that the book partially draws on. I am grateful to the editors of the CRESC book seriesTony Bennett, Penny Harvey and Kevin Hetherington—for their suggestions and encouragement and to Michael Guggenheim for his various forms of support including, above all, so generously allowing me the space to write this book while being part of the ‘Organising Disaster’ project.

Further thanks are due to all those who participated in this research. Thanks to both StepChange and the Money Advice Trust for their assistance. I am particularly grateful to Jim Fearnley, Meg Van Rooyen and Frances Walker. Thanks to those borrowers who were willing to let me into their lives and homes and were so giving with their time. Thanks also to those individuals and companies working in and around the consumer collections industry, who were open enough to let me into their world. Although they must remain anonymous, I remain grateful for their trust and willingness to allow a more complicated story of consumer collections to emerge than is often told.

I would also like to thank David Stark, Daniel Beunza and the Center on Organizational Innovation at Columbia University for being so welcoming over the course of my stay in New York. It was a time that marked a turning point in my research.

My deep thanks go out to all those who have commented on drafts of chapters at various stages in their development including Brian Alleyne, Andrew Barry, Vikki Bell, Rebecca Coleman, Aurora Fredriksen, Claire Garbett, Jennifer Gabrys, Gay Hawkins, Polly Haste, Paul Langley, Andrew Leyshon, Daniel Lopes, Bill Maurer, Noortje Marres, Donncha Marron, Liz McFall, Liz Moor, José Ossandón, Martha Poon, Martin Savransky, Greg Seigworth, Katy Shaw and Zsuzsanna Vargha. The book has without doubt been improved immensely as a result. I am especially grateful to Bill Maurer, Paul Langley, Greg Seigworth and Natasha Dow Schüll for kindly providing their endorsements. Additionally, I would like to thank current and former members of the Goldsmiths sociology department for their support and encouragement including (in addition to those already mentioned elsewhere) Les Back, Zuzana Hrdličková, David Oswell, Marsha Rosengarten, Bev Skeggs, Nina Wakeford, Bridget Ward, as well as, from other departments, Rebecca Cassidy, Mira Vogel and Martin Williams.

I am also thankful to all those who have posed range of stimulating questions at workshops, events and the spaces in-between. I can’t list you all by name but, for discussions and questions that got me thinking thanks to Martin Giraudeau, Ann Kelly, and Andrea Whittle. Thanks to Tomás Ariztía, Christian Borch, Franck Cochoy, Ann-Christina Lange, Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen, Anna Mann, Annemarie Mol and Pascale Trompette for inviting me to come and present my work at various events and for hosting such rich, insightful discussions. For invaluable assistance with the design of the book cover many thanks to Alex Wilkie, Catriona Gray and everyone else who offered their feedback.

Many others including friends, friends of friends and members of my family, have supported me in various ways at different points over the course this project, all of whom I still owe much to. These include Simon Brasse, Allan Day, Alice Deville, Yael Gerson, Nadia Iqbal, Mark Ratcliff (and all at Murmur) and Jonathan Robbins. Thanks also to Colin and Belinda Day, Gil Eyal, Jeanne Lazarus, Megan Horvath, Cesar Rodriguez, and Lou Rispoli and Danyal Lawson for an assortment of generous, helpful acts.

My biggest thanks of all go to Aurora and to my parents, Tim and Lucy Deville.

Finally, for their financial support I would like to gratefully acknowledge the Economic and Social Research Council (award number PTA-031-2006-00457):