Everyday Financialization and Political Subjectivity

Networking Session

Thursday 27th August 15:30 - 16:30

Chair: Ryann Donnelly

Fatih Karakaya – Credit Card Instalments: The Relationality of Financialization of Everyday Life

The Turkish credit card market with a number of 70 million credit cards is one of the largest in Europe. As of December 2019, the total number of yearly transactions is over 3.6 billion and the total yearly sales volume is over 150 billion Euros. Paying in instalments is the most popular form of credit card purchase in Turkey, as forty per cent of total transactions are for instalment purchases. The history of credit card instalments market can be traced back to the late 1990s when certain nonprocedural –if not fraudulent– point-of-sale level transactions forced banks to launch an instalment feature for their credit cards. In other words, “the market gave the order to the banks to issue such a credit card to be used in instalment purchases”, as vice president of one of the largest Turkish commercial banks put it. Instalment sale as a century old buying-on-credit pattern has made a new market device to participate in polyadic relation of sale and debt till forming a hybrid buying-on-credit pattern. In turn, this hybrid buying-on-credit pattern has accelerated the financialization of everyday life in Turkey. Thus, the Turkish credit card instalments market case stands as an exception for the narratives those tacitly imply that the financialization of everyday life is a top down process. Based on interviews with and autobiographies and memoires by various parties of the sector, the paper analyses the making of the credit card instalments market in Turkey to point at the relational aspects of financialization of everyday life.

Yichen Rao – Dreaming like a Market: The Hidden Script of Financial Inclusion in China’s P2P Lending Platforms

In the past ten years, Chinese people of different social strata swarmed into the Peer to Peer (P2P) lending industry as lenders and borrowers. Meanwhile, stories circulated across the media about desperate investors who lost their life’s savings on these lending platforms, many of which turned out to be Ponzi schemes. Based on 15 months of field work, this paper presents a failed-yet-influential social experiment of digital finance in the world’s largest economy. This paper examines the morality of the P2P market by observing how the aspirational public script of financial inclusion is maintained and experienced through a hidden technological script that alienates the notion of “peer.” This paper argues that the morality of the market is not only about “seeing” and judging from a distance but also about “feeling” and managing the moral boundaries and intersubjective distances between actors. These altered distances restructure interpersonal responsibilities and sustain the dreams and imagination that shapes financial subjects on an unconscious level. The paper expands the concept of market relationality beyond direct interactions between actors and uncovers the inherent tensions within the dream of financial inclusion. It examines the fantasy of beneficial technology in shaping market morality, and the unintended consequences it produces.

Amy Whitaker – Is Ownership Real? The Structural Performativity of Property Rights

In the context of arguments by Callon, Muniesa, and MacKenzie that financial systems are performative, that paper argues that property rights form an unusual, nonperformative or “real” anchor in financial systems. Specifically, property rights form a protective membrane around an asset granting the owner autonomy over decisions of when to engage in acts of commensuration. Although the point of assignment of equity shares can be fraught with questions of equality, inclusion, and equity in the distribution, the fact that ownership can be granted in shares relies on democratic processes of census and voting more than market processes of evaluation and quantification. This paper specifically explores equity in art as a model of progressive system of distribution of property rights in democratic market economies instead of distribution of universal basic income, the latter requiring on centralized authorities as calculation devices and commensuration across geographies, groups of people, and costs of living. Although these problems of commensuration still arise, equity provides an anchor in human dignity and authority, making the market more mirror than engine.