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Accepted Paper:

"They don't have the money and they don't care". Debt, care and credit-based consumption among the urban poor in Brazil  
Marie Kolling (Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS))

Paper short abstract:

Urban poor in Brazil juggle a double burden of debt in the informal cash economy and the formal economy. Exploring intricate debt relations among neighbours and relatives, this paper argues that these relations are characterized by care and exploitation, showing the limits to debt as care (Han 2012)

Paper long abstract:

This paper traces new lending practices in Brazil among urban poor. Government policies of financial inclusion in Brazil have facilitated the proliferation of consumer credit and credit cards and a drive towards the use of digital money instead of cash payments (Nakane and Rocha 2012). The urban poor have hereby gained access to credit based consumption in the formal economy and new livelihood strategies and now face a double burden of debt in the informal cash economy as well as the formal cashless economy. Based on fieldwork conducted in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, among families in an impoverished peripheral neighbourhood, this paper shows how urban poor juggle debt and emotionally experience the rising levels of household debt. The paper explores the debt relations among neighbours and relatives, as people are indebted to each other in various ways and debts are not always repaid, which reconfigures the role of the creditor and debtor. This paper will show that these relations of debt are characterized by asymmetry and instability, and as I will argue of both care and exploitation. This brings new evidence to previous work on credit based consumption in Brazil and the moral stakes of being a modern consumer that led people to pay their debts (Holston 1991) and extends the argument of understanding indebtedness in the formal economy as care in intimate family relations (Han 2012) by showing the limits to such care.

Panel P010
Moving money and everyday life - understanding debt and the digitalization of credit [Anthropology of Economy Network]
  Session 1 Friday 17 August, 2018, -