Drawing on economic anthropology's legacy of examining work, consumption and saving, we observe how these practices change as a result of new financial pressures and incentives. Studies of everyday finance will serve us to chart a future for anthropology's understanding of global finance
Economic anthropology has a rich legacy of interrogating and reconstructing the everyday logic of work, consumption and saving. While they remain important mainstays in the provisioning and management of resources among members of social groups and household units, as well as in the transmission of these resources along consecutive generations, they are also changing as a consequence of the growing dominance of finance in the wider economy and the novel pressures and incentives it represents.
Financialization presents economic anthropologists with a challenge for the future. It is no longer possible to think of work incomes absent pension investments, of consumption absent credit cards and installment plans, of housing absent complex mortgage instruments, or of saving absent risk-management. Anthropologists have recently taken on the world of global finance, but they have mostly looked at its commanding heights, delivering insights into the lifeworlds of financial experts and the social and cultural embedding of financial instruments.
Increasingly, however, ethnographic studies have been studying finance from the ground up by exercising the discipline's traditional strengths in penetrating household units and everyday practices. In this panel, we will draw on and extend these endeavors in order to illuminate anthropology's unique contribution to the study of global finance by observing such things as household agents and their exposures to risk, tensions between the temporalities of everyday life and those of global markets, political mobilizations surrounding finance, and moral understandings of what finance does.