Digital Debt Management: The Everyday Life of Austerity
The age of austerity has seen large swathes of society adversely affected by ever-harsher austerity measures and protracted economic stagnation. This is compounded by the increasing routinisation of debt default and the everyday management of problematic levels of debt. This paper explores the everyday politics of indebtedness—the multifaceted ways in which household debt is transforming debtors’ lives—and the forms of resistance it can give rise to. In particular we focus on the role played in the UK by online resources as a new and increasingly important source of expertise and collaborative support. The paper’s object is a set of web forums that offer platforms for peer-to-peer (p2p) information exchange, specifically: Consumer Action Group, Money Saving Expert, Mumsnet. We analyse the types of expertise that are made available, how this is discussed and achieves legitimacy (or not), as well as the forums’ effects on forms of domestic accounting. We also compare the online forms of debt advice to conventional ‘real world’ debt management expertise. We conclude by considering how this enhances our understanding of the transformative impact of digital technologies on indebtedness as well as offering insights into the everyday life of contemporary austerity.
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