Experiments in Relational Finance: Harnessing the Social in Everyday Debt and Credit
In the wake of successive crises, novel politics and ethics are emerging around attempts to institute a ‘new’ world of finance in the name of social relations. Financial start-ups and development organizations, often working alongside established financial institutions, are experimenting with the ‘social’ in order to create markets and scale up their activities. At the same time, people continue to advance social claims in finance out of concern for others. This article examines the rise, politics and ethics of this experimentation in what we call ‘relational finance’. Our argument is that by rendering the social dimensions of finance explicit, contemporary relational finance makes sociality available for marketization and politicization. We illustrate this claim with three examples of mobilizations of the social in everyday lending and borrowing: social collateral, social lending and social debt. Relational finance, we conclude, is far from an unproblematic ‘alternative’ but retains ethical and political potential.
This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.