Reading list for MPhil module in Sociology at the University of Cambridge (lent 2018).
I am very excited to have been invited to give a short lecture series on debt at the Cambridge sociology department this term. For those who are interested in reading more about the topic, I’m sharing a course outline below.
Questions, comments and recommendations very welcome: J.E.Roos[at]lse.ac.uk.
This short module aims to introduce students to one of the most important social, political and economic developments of the neoliberal era in which we live: the spectacular resurrection of global finance and the associated explosion of public and private debt. Over the course of four weeks, we will explore the underlying dynamics behind the rise of state and household indebtedness since the 1980s, as well as the far-reaching consequences for human freedom, social equality and democratic politics.
In the process, we will broach such salient topics as (1) financialization and the global financial crisis; (2) creditor power, the morality of debt and the social implications of rising personal indebtedness, including its interaction with questions of class, race and gender; (3) the politics of public debt, austerity and North-South relations — from the “fiscal crisis of the state” in the 1970s and the Third World debt crises of the 1980s and 1990s to the recent turmoil inside the Eurozone; and (4) the different forms of debt resistance and anti-austerity protest that have emerged over the course of the past decades, as well as the prospects for meaningful debt relief and democratic renewal.
Approach and objectives:
The module takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of debt as a social relation, drawing on insights developed by a wide range of scholars in the social sciences. The readings and lectures will be non-technical, and no prior knowledge of economics is required. The main objective is to familiarize students with a sociologically-informed “critique of political economy,” in which the main themes are questions of power, conflict and inequality.
The classes will be structured around a one-hour lecture followed by an hour of questions and open discussion. Students are requested to read the required texts and to watch a short video before coming to class. The listed magazine and newspaper articles are optional, but recommended to help inform our classroom discussion. Extra readings and online resources are suggested below for those interested in exploring specific topics in greater depth.
Overview of class topics:
Week 1 (16/02): Financialization
Week 2 (23/02): Personal Debt
Week 3 (02/03): Public Debt
Week 4 (09/03): Debt Resistance
World Debt Clock
Debt & Society
Finance & Society
Mapping Student Debt
FT Special: ‘A Decade of Debt’
Debt Collective (US)
Debt Resistance (UK)
Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual
Jubilee Debt Campaign (Drop the Debt)
Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM)
I-PEEL: International Political Economy and Everyday Life
Week 1: Financialization
Arrighi, Giovanni (1994), The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Times. London and New York: Verso Books, pp. 1–26.
Krippner, Greta (2011), Capitalizing on Crisis: The Political Origins of the Rise of Finance. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 1–26.
Harvey, David (2010), The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. vi-viii and pp. 1–39.
Video to watch:
Harvey, David (2010), ‘The Crises of Capitalism’, RSA Animate:
In the news:
Moyo, Dambisa (2017), ‘Global debt woes are building up to a tidal wave’, Financial Times, May 29.
Chang, Szu Ping (2017), ‘Global debt explodes at “eye-watering” pace to hit £170 trillion’, The Telegraph, April 4.
Dobbs, Richard et al. (2015), ‘Debt and (not much) deleveraging’, McKinsey Global Institute (just the summary).
Week 2: Personal Debt
Graeber, David (2011), Debt: The First 5,000 Years. NY: Melville, pp. 1–19.
Lazzarato, Maurizio (2012), The Making of the Indebted Man: Essay on the Neoliberal Condition. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press, pp. 7–54.
Dimsky, Gary, Jesus Hernandez and Lisa Mohanty (2013), ‘Race, Gender, Power, and the US Subprime Mortgage and Foreclosure Crisis’, Feminist Economics, 19:3, pp. 124–151.
Video to watch:
Graeber, David (2011), ‘Are We Slaves to Debt?’, PBS Interview:
In the news:
Saha (2017), ‘Family debts main cause of Indian farm suicides’, The Economic Times (India), June 28.
Chen, Michelle (2017), ‘Women owe two-thirds of student loan debt’, The Guardian, June 21.
Kiel, Paul and Annie Waldman (2015), ‘The burden of debt on Black America’, The Atlantic, October 9.
Week 3: Public Debt
Soederberg, Susanne (2005), ‘The Transnational Debt Architecture and Emerging Markets’, Third World Quarterly, 26:6, pp. 927–949.
Streeck, Wolfgang (2014), Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism. London and New York: Verso, pp. vii-xviii and pp. 1–46.
Varoufakis, Yanis (2017), ‘Bailoutistan’, in: Adults in the Room: My Battle with Europe’s Deep Establishment. London: Bodley Head, pp. 19–50.
Video to watch:
Blyth, Mark (2010), ‘Austerity’, Watson Institute video:
In the news:
Elliot, Larry (2018), ‘Are we heading for another developing world debt crisis?’, The Guardian, January 14.
Mazzei, Patricia and Mary Williams Walsh (2018), ‘Hurricane-torn Puerto Rico says it can’t pay any of its debts for 5 years’, New York Times, January 24.
Ellie Mae MacDonald (2018), ‘The gendered impact of austerity: cuts are widening the poverty gap between women and men’, LSE Politics and Policy Blog, January 10.
Week 4: Debt Resistance
Strike Debt (2012), ‘An Ode to the Debt Resistor’, in: The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual. Oakland: PM Press, pp. 1–2.
Debt Collective (2015), ‘The Potential of Debtors’ Unions’, ROAR Magazine, Issue #0: December, pp. 194–210.
Ambrose, Soren (2005), ‘Social Movements and the Politics of Debt Cancellation’, Chicago Journal of International Law, 6:1, Article 16.
Della Porta, Donatella (2017), ‘Political Economy and Social Movement Studies: The Class Basis of Anti-Austerity Protests’, Anthropological Theory, 17:4, pp. 453–473.
Block, Fred (2014), ‘Democratizing Finance’, Politics & Society, 42:1, pp. 3–28.
Video to watch:
Sankara, Thomas (1987), speech at the African Unity Organization:
In the news:
Jones, Harrison (2017), ‘London student march calls for rich to be taxed to fund free education’, The Guardian, November 15.
Chandoul, Jihen (2018), ‘The IMF has choked Tunisia. No wonder the people are protesting’, The Guardian, January 17.
Lapavitsas, Costas (2014), ‘Finance’s hold on our everyday lives must be broken’, The Guardian, January 1.
Krippner, Greta (2005), ‘The Financialization of the American Economy’, Socio-Economic Review, 3:2, pp. 173–208.
Foster, John Bellamy (2007), ‘The Financialization of Capitalism’, Monthly Review, 58:11.
Van der Zwan, Natascha (2013), ‘Making Sense of Financialization’, Socio-Economic Review, 12:1, pp. 99–129.
Lapavitsas, Costas (2013), Profiting without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All. London and New York: Verso Books.
Lapavitsas, Costas (2011), ‘Theorizing Financialization’, Work, Employment and Society, 25:4, pp. 611–626.
Panitch, Leo and Sam Gindin (2013), The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire. London and New York: Verso Books.
Sassen, Saskia (2014), Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Marazzi, Christian (2010), The Violence of Financial Capitalism. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press.
Gowan, Peter (2009), ‘Crisis in the Heartland: Consequences of the New Wall Street System’, New Left Review, 55, pp. 5–29.
Gowan, Peter (1999), Global Gamble: Washington’s Faustian Bid for World Dominance. London and New York: Verso Books.
Harvey, David (2005), A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Duménil, Gérard and Dominique Levy (2004), Capital Resurgent: Roots of the Neoliberal Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Martin, Randy (2002), Financialization of Daily Life. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Jameson, Fredric (1997), ‘Culture and Finance Capital’, Critical Inquiry, 24:1, pp. 246–265.
Haiven, Max (2014), Cultures of Financialization: Fictitious Capital in Popular Culture and Everyday Life. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Helleiner, Eric (1996), States and the Reemergence of Global Finance: From Bretton Woods to the 1990s. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Cohen, Benjamin J. (1996), ‘Phoenix Risen: The Resurrection of Global Finance’, World Politics, 48:2, pp. 268–296.
Strange, Susan (1986), Casino Capitalism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Polanyi, Karl (1944), The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press.
Hobson, John A. (1902), Imperialism: A Study. Nottingham: Spokesman.
Hilferding, Rudolph (1910), Finance Capital: A Study in the Latest Phase of Capitalist Development. Abingdon: Routledge.
Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich (1917), Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism: A Popular Outline. New York: International Publishers.
Bukharin, Nikolai (1918), Imperialism and World Economy. London: Martin Lawrence.
2) Personal debt:
Lazzarato, Maurizio (2015), Governing by Debt. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press.
Dodd, Nigel (2014), The Social Life of Money. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Dienst, Richard (2011), The Bonds of Debt: Borrowing Against the Common Good. London and New York: Verso Books.
Joseph, Miranda (2014), Debt to Society: Accounting for Life Under Capitalism. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.
Karim, Lamia (2011), Microfinance and its Discontents: Women in Debt in Bangladesh. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.
Federici, Silvia (2014), ‘From Commoning to Debt: Financialization, Microcredit, and the Changing Architecture of Capital Accumulation’, Southern Atlantic Quarterly, 113:2, pp. 231–244.
Kus, Basak (2015), ‘Sociology of Debt: States, Credit Markets, and Indebted Citizens’, Sociology Compass, 9:3, pp. 212–223.
Soederberg, Susanne (2014), Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry: Money, Discipline and the Surplus Population. Abingdon: Routledge.
Soederberg, Susanne (2014), ‘Student Loans, Debtfare and the Commodification of Debt: The Politics of Securitization and the Displacement of Risk’, Critical Sociology, 40:5, pp. 689–709.
Marez, Curtis (2014), ‘Seeing in the Red: Looking at Student Debt’, American Quarterly, 66:2, pp. 261–281.
Dimsky, Gary (2009), ‘Racial Exclusion and the Political Economy of the Subprime Crisis’, Historical Materialism, 17:2, pp. 149–179.
Rugh, Jacob S. and Douglas S. Massey (2010), ‘Racial Segregation and the US Foreclosure Crisis’, American Sociological Review, 75:5, pp. 629–651.
Montgomerie, Johnna and Brigitte Young (2010), Gender and Wealth (Dis)Accumulation in the Subprime Boom. CRESC Working Paper №79, University of Manchester.
Montgomerie, Johnna et al. (2014), The Politics of Indebtedness in the UK. Public interest report, Goldsmiths, University of London.
Davies, Will, Johnna Montgomerie and Sara Wallen (2015), Financial Melancholia: Mental Health and Indebtedness. Public interest report, Goldsmiths, University of London.
Deville, Joe (2015), Lived Economies of Default: Consumer Credit, Debt Collection and the Capture of Affect. Abingdon: Routledge.
Roberts, Adrienne (2016), ‘Household Debt and the Financialization of Social Reproduction: Theorizing the UK Housing and Hunger Crises’, in: Susanne Soederberg (ed.), Risking Capitalism: Research in Political Economy, Vol. 31. Emerald Group Publishing Ltd, pp. 135–164.
LeBaron, Genevieve (2014), ‘Reconceptualizing Debt Bondage: Debt as a Class-Based Form of Labor Discipline’, Critical Sociology, 40:5, pp. 763–780.
LeBaron, Genevieve and Adrienne Roberts (2012), ‘Confining Social Insecurity: Neoliberalism and the Rise of the 21st Century Debtors’ Prison’, Gender and Politics, 8:1, pp. 25–49.
3) Public debt:
Blyth, Mark (2013), Austerity: History of A Dangerous Idea. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stuckler, David and Sanjay Basu (2013), The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills. London: Allen Lane.
Kentikelenis, Alexander et al. (2014), ‘Greece’s Health Crisis: From Austerity to Denialism’, The Lancet, 383:9918, pp. 748–753.
Streeck, Wolfgang (2011), ‘The Crises of Democratic Capitalism’, New Left Review, II-71, pp. 5–29.
Streeck, Wolfgang (2013), The Politics of Public Debt: Neoliberalism, Capitalist Development, and the Restructuring of the State. MPIfG Discussion Paper 13/7, Cologne: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
Streeck, Wolfgang (2015), The Rise of the European Consolidation State. MPIfG Discussion Paper 15/1, Cologne: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
Roos, Jerome (forthcoming), Why Not Default? The Political Economy of Sovereign Debt. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Sassen, Saskia (2016), ‘Economic Cleansing: Failure Dressed in Fine Clothes’, Social Research, 83(3), pp. 673–687.
Montgomerie, Johnna (2016), ‘Austerity and the Household: The Politics of Economic Storytelling’, British Politics, 11:4, pp. 418–437.
Wöhl, Stefanie (2017), ‘The Gender Dynamics of Financialization and Austerity in the European Union’, in: Kantola, Johanna and Emanuela Lombardo (eds.), Gender and the Economic Crisis in Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
DiMuzio, Tim and Richard H. Robins (2016), Debt as Power: Theory for a Global Age. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Dyson (2014), States, Debt, and Power: ‘Saints’ and ‘Sinners’ in European History and Integration. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hager, Sandy Brian (2016), Public Debt, Power, and Inequality: The Making of a Modern Debt State. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Phillips-Fein (2017), Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics. New York: Metropolitan Books / Henry Holt & Company.
Sugrue, Thomas (2014), ‘Preface’, in: The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Toussaint, Éric (2010), Debt, the IMF and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers. New York: Monthly Review Press.
Stiglitz, Joseph E. (2002), Globalization and its Discontents. New York City: W. W. Norton & Company.
Rock, David (2002), ‘Racking Argentina’, New Left Review, II-17, p. 55–86.
Wade, Robert H. and Frank Veneroso (1998), ‘The Asian Crisis: The High Debt Model Versus the Wall Street-Treasury-IMF Complex’, New Left Review, I-228, pp. 3–23.
Suter, Christian and Hanspeter Stamm (1992), ‘Coping with Global Debt Crises: Debt Settlements, 1820 to 1986’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 34:4, pp. 645–678.
Federici, Silvia (1990), ‘The Debt Crisis, Africa and the New Enclosures’, Midnight Notes, 10 (republished in The Commoner, 2).
Marichal, Carlos (1989), A Century of Debt Crises in Latin America: From Independence to the Great Depression, 1820–1930. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
George, Susan (1988), A Fate Worse than Debt: The World Financial Crisis and the Poor. London: Penguin, pp. 1–29.
Payer, Cheryl (1974), The Debt Trap. London: Penguin.
O’Connor, James (1973), The Fiscal Crisis of the State. New Brunswick: Transaction Books.
Luxemburg, Rosa (1913), ‘International Loans’, in: The Accumulation of Capital. London: Routledge.
4) Debt resistance:
Ross, Andrew (2014), Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal. New York: OR Books.
Special section on Strike Debt in South Atlantic Quarterly (2013), 112:4.
Special section on debt activism in Third World Quarterly (2013), 34:8.
Jubilee Debt Campaign (2013), Life and Debt: Global Stories of Debt and Resistance. London: Jubilee Debt Campaign.
Greece’s Truth Committee on Public Debt (2015), ‘Preliminary Report’, available at: http://www.cadtm.org/Preliminary-Report-of-the-Truth.
Toussaint, Eric and Benjamin Lemoine (2017), ‘History of the CADTM Anti-Debt Policies’. Available at: http://www.cadtm.org/History-of-the-CADTM-Anti-Debt.
Reyes Tagle, Yovana and Katarina Sehm Patomäki (2007), The Rise and Development of the Global Debt Movement: A North-South Dialogue. Civil Society and Social Movements Programme Paper №28. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
King, Jeff (2016), The Doctrine of Odious Debt in International Law: A Restatement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Appel, Hannah (2014), ‘Occupy Wall Street and the Economic Imagination’, Cultural Anthropology, 29:4, pp. 602–625.
Appel, Hannah and David Graeber (2014), ‘Finance Is Just Another Word for Other People’s Debts’, Radical History Review, 118, pp. 159–173.
Ancelovici, Marc et al, eds. (2016), Street Politics in the Age of Austerity: From the Indignados to Occupy. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Bailey, David J., Mònica Clua-Losada, Nikolai Huke and Olatz Ribera-Almandoz (2017), Beyond Defeat and Austerity: Disrupting (the Critical Political Economy of) Neoliberal Europe. Abingdon: Routledge.
Sitrin, Marina and Dario Azzellini (2014), They Can’t Represent Us: Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy. London: Verso Books.
Colectivo Situaciones (2011), 19 & 20: Notes for a New Social Protagonism (on the Argentine revolt). Brooklyn, NY: Minor Compositions.
Vilas, Carlos M. (2006), ‘Neoliberal Meltdown and Social Protest: Argentina 2001–2002’, Critical Sociology, 32:1, pp. 163–186.
Walton, John and Charles Ragin (1990), ‘Global and National Sources of Political Protest: Third World Responses to the Debt Crisis’, American Sociological Review, 55:6, pp. 876–890.
Walton, John ‘Debt, Protest and the State in Latin America’, in: Eckstein, Susan (ed.), Power and Popular Protest: Latin American Social Movements, pp. 299–328.
Simms, Andrew (2009), Ecological Debt: Global Warming and the Wealth of Nations. London: Pluto Press.
Roberts, J. Timmons and Bradley C. Parks (2009), ‘Ecologically Unequal Exchange, Ecological Debt, and Climate Justice: The History and Implications of Three Related Ideas for a New Social Movement’, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 50:3–4, pp. 385–409.
Source URL — https://roarmag.org/2018/01/30/reading-list-sociology-finance-debt-austerity/