Research interests

Inequality, finance and development, political economy and sociology of money, financialisation, microfinance, public goods, water and sanitation, social movements, jobs and employment, transnational governance, unintended consequences of social action.

Current research

I’m currently working on and preparing a number of projects in the areas of financial inclusion, digital monies, financial literacy, public goods and basic services, youth employment, and state-business relations. (This section will be updated soon.)

Daniel Mertens, Natascha van der Zwan, and I are putting together an International Handbook of Financialization.

Past Projects

Microfinance: Narratives, Governmentalities, and Materialities of Financialisation (2012-2013)

The financialization of capitalism is a transnational social fact and historical trend affecting societies around the globe. But little attention has been paid to its intricacies and subtleties in areas such as the proliferation of microfinance. Microfinance is driving the expansion of financial markets into the slums and villages of the “Global South” – who then become integrated into transnational capital circuits. Microfinance constructs social problems as financial problems and gives moral urgency to market expansion by promising “empowerment” through debt. This clearly reveals the mobilizing narratives that underlie financialization. The mechanisms and effects of governmentality produced in financial market relations can be examined through those credit linkages which instill discipline while opening up new channels of surplus extraction. This project aims to add to the social-scientific analysis of money, credit, and debt by examining the functioning of financial markets in modern capitalism as revealed by the logics and techniques underlying microfinance. It applies theories from political economy and economic sociology, and builds on case studies concerning the expansion and limits of microfinance.

Microfinance for Water and Sanitation: Social Dynamics in the Transnational Governance of Common Resources (2008-2012)

Microfinance, as part of global processes of financialization, is continually expanding into new realms. Microloans are now also being used in attempts to improve the provision of water and sanitation in developing countries. These schemes can range from personal loans for municipal connections through to the financing of small projects and. As a rough estimate, some two million people in developing countries are being or have been targeted. This research project fills a gap in research by addressing questions of legitimacy and governance in microfinance-facilitated water and sanitation projects, as well as questions of efficacy. Processes of institutional change are investigated from the standpoint of economic sociology and political economy. These issues formed the topic of a dissertation project completed in June 2012.

Researcher “in the field”