Accepted paper:

"Why should we eat the buttocks every day? Just because we are poor!?" Informal credit, poverty and competing grounds of belonging

Author:

Alexandra Szőke

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines the ways in which informal credit and every-day consumption is utilized in local claims and negotiations of belonging in a remote Hungarian village and its connection to the broader phenomena of 'rescaling of insecurities', a concomitant of neoliberal reforms.

Paper long abstract:

The paper examines the ways in which informal credit is utilized in local claims and negotiations of belonging in a remote Hungarian village, where resources are scarce and unemployment is high. A large part of the population lives from state assistance and rely on continuous credit for their everyday consumption. Similar to other remote rural localities, informal arrangements, such as informal credit, gain special importance within the various practices that individuals or families can utilize for their or their families' present and future security. Examining the way such credit practices are established and locally constructed, the paper explores their effects vis-a-vis social citizenship. It is shown that indebtedness of local unemployed and the short-termism evident in their consumption practices are the results of a broader phenomenon, namely the rescaling of insecurities, a concomitant of neoliberal reforms in the country. Within this political economic context, the dominant public discourse describes the unemployed and their practices in highly moralized terms, which not only stigmatizes people living in poverty but also demands public control over various spheres of their life, such as parenting, living arrangements or money-spending. The paper discusses informal credit, and what is judged as "unthoughtful consumption" by the majority and underlines the role of consumption in local claims and negotiations of belonging.

panel P65
Linking the moral and the political economy in the European periphery