Table of contents: Argentina, 2001-2003 - Juggling Wealth in India and Mexico - Senegalese Immigrants and Savings - Private Clients, Banks and Trust - How Swedish Employees Became Financial Product Consumers - Chinese Perceptions of a Crisis-Ridden EU - What Security Architecture for the Mediterranean? - From Citizen Power to People Power Read More
Economic Socialization and Monetary Hierarchies in a Context of Crisis: Argentina, 2001-2003
Between 2001 and 2003, more than half of all Argentine provinces issued their own currency, which coexisted with the national currency (the peso) on their respective territories. This article draws upon a case study to examine the effects of this currency proliferation on the everyday uses and social representations of money in Argentina. On the basis of a detailed examination of monetary practices, it considers the practical modalities of the coexistence of various currencies. At the same time, it offers the necessary materials for an empirical investigation of the processes of economic socialization that, in every historic and geographical context, give form to socially diffuse practices of billing and payment. I first describe the population's everyday monetary practices during the period in which provincial currencies circulated. I then turn to consider the relations between the various currencies in circulation as well as the social relations that produced and were transformed by them. Finally, I present the economic socialization processes that simultaneously caused and resulted from the manner in which monetary diversity was established.
Magdalena, Villarreal, Isabelle Guérin and K. S. Santosh Kumar
Carola and Saraswathi: Juggling Wealth in India and Mexico
Drawing on ethnographic work in India and Mexico, this article considers the nature of wealth in the women's everyday financial operations. We argue that wealth is not simply the actual income or quantifiable resources possessed by an individual or family but also relates to the manner in which certain material and symbolic resources are deployed and endowed with meaning in given cultural contexts. Beyond what is typically defined as "capital", what matters in the acquisition of wealth is the process by which people are able to employ their capital to realize a profit ("capitalization"). Doing so, however, requires that one constantly “juggle” the mechanisms for acquiring wealth. These consist of an uninterrupted series of risky operations in which variousforms of capital are combined, articulated and sometimes substituted for one another. It is only by virtue of this interdependency and constant circulation that these forms of capital acquire value.
Hamidou Dia and Laure Lacan
Senegalese Immigrants and Savings: A Multi-Situated Domestic Economy Faced with French Financial Institutions
Drawing upon a long-term ethnographic survey, this article seeks to show how, inscribed within several universes of meaning and belonging, Senegalese immigrants sometimes wind up developing conflictual and mutually uncomprehending financial relations with French banks. This requires lifting the veil on certain financial institution customs as well as on saving practices that appear unintelligible from the perspective of the established norms of the country of residence. To do so, it is necessary to deconstruct received ideas concerning the resources of migrants whose class positions cannot be solely defined by reference to the criteria of France.
Private Clients, Banks and Trust: An Italian Case Study
This ethnographic study presents the results of a survey regarding the influence of banking advisors on indebted households in two Italian banks. The data was collected in the course of 73 interviews with the holders of variable rate mortgages and their banking advisors. The present article aims to describe borrowers’ choices and motivations faced with soaring monthly repayments at the time of the 2008 financial crisis. The information collected during the survey shows a few of the ways in which banks influence their clients and reconfigure the resources available to families as well as the tools they use to do so, a crucial new factor of inequality in contemporary society.
How Swedish Employees Became Financial Product Consumers: The Experience of “Employee Checking Accounts” in the 1950s and 60s
In the late 1950s, Swedish commercial banks started to offer payroll services to employers and opened checking accounts for both white- and blue-collar employees. Within a decade, Swedish wage earners had become financial service consumers and the banks – until then, stately institutions exclusively serving businesses and the rich – became retail companies selling a wide range of products to the public. Focusing on “employee checking accounts”, this article examines the cultural challenges posed by the exceptionally early bankarization of Swedish society. I argue that the fabrication and supervision of new financial subjects in Sweden was initially made possible by techniques and discourses rooted in traditional values and collective, class identities: the wageearners identity proved to be instrumental in the financialization of everyday life. The new financial subjects were created in a back and forth movement between old identities and the models imagined for new ones. Furthermore, the Swedish case shows that the received chronology of the financialization of everyday life in Europe must be pushed back several years.
Chinese Perceptions of a Crisis-Ridden EU
If, as coined by John Churton Collins, “in adversity, we know our friends”, then the EU could not have thought of a better opportunity than the one created by the post-2000 wave of crises that rippled throughout Europe to test the strength – if not the sincerity – of its partnership with China. This research surveys a series of articles published in two journals closely linked to the Chinese central government. It shed light on Chinese perceptions of the EU between 2007 and 2013, and, more particularly, on the high degree of ambiguity that characterizes these perceptions. While, on the eve of EU crises, Chinese analysts worried about the rise of a powerful EU capable of defending its own interests when dealing with China, the faltering of the Eurozone, itself largely attributed to mistakes made by European leaders, has been considered with equanimity. In fact, the weakening of the European model is seen as part of an evolution in the distribution of power that are beneficial to China both economically and politically.
What Security Architecture for the Mediterranean?
This study addresses the security architecture of the Mediterranean, a zone characterized by significant heterogeneity: stability to the North, instability to the South. It argues for a cooperative security regime that takes sub-regional diversity into account. Drawing upon neo-realist, neoliberal and (above all) constructivist approaches as well as the closely related concepts of security regime and security community, the article seeks to assess the relevance of cooperative security for the Mediterranean space. Given its heterogenous configuration and the tension between strategic imperatives and ethical considerations in European preferences, how are norms transferred to the southern shore? The primacy of strategic imperatives in the context of the Arab uprisings and elsewhere distorts the process of norm transfer and externalization. However, despite the persistence of some hotbeds of conflict in the region, a system of cooperative security is indeed being established.
From Citizen Power to People Power: The Institutionalization of Women’s Political Action in Venezuela
With the arrival to power of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela changed political regime, adopting the project of “participatory and protagonistic democracy” (protagónica) in the 1999 Constitution. The central role played by Communal Councils in this policy of participation allowed “everyday territories” to be promoted as levels of action and spaces in which specific actors – most of them women – could be involved. It is therefore worth asking how the “popular power” of twenty-first socialism departed from the liberal state’s rhetoric of citizenship – a rhetoric created by and for men – in order to promote women’s political skills and draw inspiration from their practices? The collapse of the division between state and society that accompanied the establishment of the Communal Councils allowed the political character of women’s local action to be recognized. Yet it also raises the question of party affiliation in political involvement and, paradoxically, the self-determination of power that it permits.