1932

Abstract

Increasing access to diverse types of credit and spreading indebtedness across many social groups were significant economic developments of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, with implications for social inequality and insecurity. This review evaluates the role of credit and debt in social inequality in the United States. Credit and debt shape inequalities along multiple pathways, in defining social inclusion and exclusion, directing life chances, and facilitating oppression. On the basis of this review, I conclude that building on the progress made in prior research calls for a relational approach to understanding credit, debt, and inequality that includes a focus on the powerful actors that benefit from a political economy increasingly dependent on credit and debt to distribute, regulate, and control social resources. I close by identifying outstanding questions that need to be answered in order to move forward our understanding of economic inequality and insecurity, as well as for social policy and the prospects for collective action.

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2018-07-30
2024-05-29
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