Tag Archives: Geertz

Morality and popular finance: moral capital as a kind of guarantee

Ariel Wilkis nos hizo llegar su presentación en el último ISA-Buenos Aires. Acá va. Por cierto, Ariel no tiene problemas con responder comentarios y preguntas en castellano.

In my current work I discuss the expansion of financial agencies specializing in providing personal credits for consumption. I’m interested in this process because it has meant one of the mechanisms of incorporation of the popular classes into the financial system. A recent survey on financial practices in Greater Buenos Aires showed that about 20% of the informal workers, the welfare beneficiaries and the people living in slums-, obtained a credit through these agencies in the past year. (Wilkis, 2012). The first interpretation of this process can follow a sequential argument (as Geertz or Bourdieu et al. would do): the expansion of the credit market replaces the informal credit systems of the popular classes. With regard to this interpretation I would like to stand two points out. On the one hand, the above survey shows the simultaneity and heterogeneity of financial practices (both formal financial practices -for example, the use of credits cards, and informal financial practices -for example, buying on “fiado”). On the other hand, and this is the central theme I’m interested in presenting in this brief communication, we note that the making up of a certain personal credit supply is organized on the basis of a kind of guarantee which is usually central in informal credit systems: the moral capital. The credit agencies in question organize the supply, the interaction and the credit assessment on the recognition of ethical virtues of those who demand the money. Continue reading