Microfinance: Narratives, Governmentalities, and Materialities of Financialization
The financialization of capitalism is a transnational social fact and historical trend affecting societies around the globe. But little attention has been paid to its intricacies and subtleties in areas such as the proliferation of microfinance. Microfinance is driving the expansion of financial markets into the slums and villages of the "Global South" - who then become integrated into transnational capital circuits. Microfinance constructs social problems as financial problems and gives moral urgency to market expansion by promising "empowerment" through debt. This clearly reveals the mobilizing narratives that underlie financialization. The mechanisms and effects of governmentality produced in financial market relations can be examined through those credit linkages which instill discipline while opening up new channels of surplus extraction. This project aims to add to the social-scientific analysis of money, credit, and debt by examining the functioning of financial markets in modern capitalism as revealed by the logics and techniques underlying microfinance. It applies theories from political economy and economic sociology, and builds on case studies concerning the expansion and limits of microfinance. Project duration: June 2012 to September 2013.