Essay Forum: Labor in Financialization

A Dual Democratization of Finance? Labor’s Political Question after Financialization

Authored by: Michael A. McCarthy

The Routledge International Handbook of Financialization

Print publication date:  February  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138308213
eBook ISBN: 9781315142876
Adobe ISBN:


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Workers have long been subject to relations of debt and credit. But since the mid-twentieth century, through their pension funds or 401(k) plans, mutual funds, and mortgages, workers have become increasingly submerged in financial markets for the provisioning of their everyday needs. And as Adkins notes in the previous essay, this might be both caused by and a cause of wage stagnation in distinct ways. Consider the fact that the proportion of households in the US invested in the stock market has increased from 20% in 1983 to 52% in 2001 (Davis 2009: 213). And across both wealthy and non-wealthy households, the proportion of financial assets owned relative to non-financial assets owned has grown (Keister 2005). This democratization of finance on the basis of its allocation has penetrated into people’s lives, generating both a new financial culture that has increased tolerance for financial risk and policy preferences that are more consistent with the interests of finance capital (Fligstein and Goldstein 2015; Pagliari et al. 2018; see Pagliari and Young in this volume).

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