Borrowed identities: Class(ification), inequality and the role of credit-debt in class making and struggle
The Sociological Review
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Sparkes, M. (2019). Borrowed identities: Class(ification), inequality and the role of credit-debt in class making and struggle. The Sociological Review, 003802611983156-003802611983156. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026119831563
Class analysis has re-emerged as a pertinent area of enquiry. This development is linked to a growing body of work dubbed cultural class analysis, that utilises Bourdieu’s class scheme to develop rich understandings of how culture and lifestyle interacts with economic and social relations in Britain, generating inequalities and hierarchies. Yet cultural class analyses do not properly account for the way individuals resist their relative class positions, nor the role of unsecured credit in facilitating consumption. This article contributes to this area by examining how unsecured credit and problem debt influences consumption and class position amongst individuals with modest incomes. Drawing on 21 interviews with individuals managing problem debt, this article details how class inequality emerges through affective states that include anxiety and feelings of deficit. It also shows how these experiences motivate participants to rely on unsecured credit to consume cultural goods and engage in activities in a struggle against their class position, with the intention of enhancing how they are perceived and classified by others. The findings indicate that cultural class analyses may have overlooked the symbolic importance of mundane consumption and goods in social differentiation. This article further details how these processes entangle individuals into complex liens of debt – which lead to over-indebtedness, default, dispossession and financial expropriation – illustrating how investigations of credit-debt can better inform understandings of class inequality, exploitation and struggle
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number 1014317].
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026119831563
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/291015