This research project aims at analysing the multiple facets of financialisation by considering them as illustrative of wider structural processes- the retreat of public provisioning and the withering away of “welfare state” politics, the emergence of new forms of risk-sharing between society and individuals, and the transformation of the very nature of interpersonal relationships, thanks mainly to technological changes.
The first objective of the study is to unravel the concrete interactions between local populations and the various actors of financialisation with a view to understand the effects of these interactions on the daily lives of individuals. We will be concerned with (1) unravelling the financial market dynamics of microcredit innovation in India over the last quarter century; (2) exploring the new bank-led initiatives of financial inclusion and financial sector deregulaton; and (3) social-solidarity models that function as alternatives to mainstream financial institutions. As suggested above, this requires a conceptual framework that allows one to go beyond simplistic oppositions (detailed in the subsequent section).
The specific research questions under this objective are:
- How to characterise financialisation in its multifarious aspects in the Indian context?
- What are the facets of financialisation that have closely interacted with the household economies of the poor?
- How do rural and urban households relate to and gain from formal financial interactions?
- How do formal financial transactions get embedded and enmeshed in non-economic institutions?
- What is debt? How do households view over-indebtedness?
- What is the incidence of indebtedness?
- How do households deal with (over) indebtedness?
- What are the varieties of solidarity models working in various socio-cultural regions?
- How have they come to be formed and how do they strategise their operations?
The second objective of the study is theoretical. It aims at renewing the conceptualisation of financialisation by going beyond the current approaches widely dominated by behavioural economics to the serious neglect of social and political dimension of domestic economies. This would be done by revisiting the thick discourse around the political economy and economic sociology of money and finance.
The approach proposed is interdisciplinary (economics and sociology) and comparative (multiple states in India) and aims at breaking down the usual walls between geographic and cultural areas.The among four states Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Odisha.
Data collection across the four states will be based on a common instrument and approach, elaborated during the first year of the project. Data collection and analysis would proceed as follows:
The first level, micro analysis, is that of daily practices. This will be done with the help of detailed case studies of about 40 households per study location. An important tool to collect data for constructing the case studies would be financial dairies. Also, life stories of 40 women belonging to the selected households will be documented to understand the individual experiences of women in negotiating the world of finance. Direct observation of people’s interaction with financial institutions, use and understanding of various financial instruments will also form part of the research methods. Additionally 20 households per state will be givenfinancial dairies which will be tracked over several months.
The second level analysis is that of institutions. These will be done through interviews and observation. The objective will be to analyse the discourse of a whole range of institutions, 5 to 10 institutions per study location.
At the end of 12 months, i.e., 30th June 2018, IFP will share all the field material with GIDR along with a detailed analytical write up based on field research. This will form part the larger study that GIDR is spearheading. The final report and all the publications that come out of the association will have joint authorship by researchers involved from both GIDR and IFP sides.
- Dr. Isabelle Guerin, IRD
- Santhosh Kumar, Chennai