A Debt of One's Own
This thesis explores the disciplinary aspects of formal financial institutions, and in particular banks, upon population behavior. To that end, the political significance of banks is first traced throughout the European and American history of governmental concerns around the notion of financial inclusion, the proportion of the population embedded in the formal financial sector. Over the course of two centuries, governmental interests congeal in the importance of distributing formal, interested, institutional debts. Second, the more specific effects of financial inclusion are looked at in detail through the lens of the microfinance industry around the world, with a case study in contemporary Egypt—using both surveys and qualitative interviews. The main effect of these disciplinary institutions lies in their capacity to convert strong social ties into weaker ties, and thus to guarantee forms of sociability that are easier to govern for liberal, market-oriented state and business actors. Against modernization theory, banks are thus identified as the twin pillars of both civil society and the marketplace.