Accepted Paper:

Financialization from the margins: notes on the incorporation of Rosario's subproletariat into consumer credit (Argentina, 2009-2015)  


Hadrien Saiag (LAIOS/CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses how Rosario’s subproletariat has been incorporated into consumer credit, from 2009 to 2015. This situation is described as a complex process, portrayed by the juxtaposition of heterogeneous debt practices, the access to new forms of consumption, and a new form of exploitation.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses how Rosario's subproletariat has been massively incorporated into consumer credits, based on two field-works carried on in 2009 and 2013 in Rosario's (Argentina) main industrial district. Indeed, in this short period or time, Rosario's subproletariat's saving and debt practices changed dramatically. On the one hand, nonregistered workers' families have been incorporated into the national social protection system, from 2010 onwards, which resulted in massive cash transfers to people who did not previously receive formalized and regular income. On the other hand, financial institutions began offering new consumption credit instruments to this population (credit cards, credits in cash, and delayed payments for household electrical), through very aggressive practices. As a result, by the end of 2013, almost every household contracted at least one consumption credit to financial institutions, while almost no financial institution provided any kind of credit and saving device to this population until 2010.

This situation is understood as a complex process, portrayed by 1) the juxtaposition of a variety of complex and compartmentalized formal and informal debt practices, which express highly diverse kinds of social relations; 2) the access to new forms of consumption from which the subproletariat was previously excluded; and 3) a new form of exploitation, characterized by a profound feeling of alienation of people's time, because of the existing hiatus between the time of financial institutions (formalized on a monthly basis), and the time of people's work (made by erratic and non formalized payments).

Panel P083
Debt: a critical reflection based on people's debts