The Anthropological Study of Financialization

Authored by: Hadas Weiss

The Routledge International Handbook of Financialization

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

Print ISBN: 9781138308213
eBook ISBN: 9781315142876
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315142876-8

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Abstract

In one of anthropology’s classic studies, Pierre Bourdieu (1979) observed Algeria in the 1960s as the institutions of global capitalism descended upon it. Challenging narratives of linear modernization, he showed Algeria’s traditional social orders being reproduced. His ethnography also succeeded in defamiliarizing finance: making its logic overt rather than obscured by a seemingly self-evident reality. It did so particularly with respect to the financial demand that one sacrifice immediate interests for abstract future ones. This demand contradicted, for Algerian farmers, a prior state of being in which their work was organically linked to its returns. Credit, to be repaid with set interest rates, forced upon them an unwelcome sense of time laden with financial value that needs to be identified and calculated, as well as the necessity to organize their lives in relation to future opportunities. Bourdieu’s study was an early indication of anthropology’s capacity to problematize finance for readers whose lives would soon become intertwined in it.

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