Cultural Economies of Insurance, Credit and Spending
By Liz Mcfall
Routledge – 2013 – 192 pages
The book explores the vital role played by the financial service industries in enabling the poor to consume over the last hundred and fifty years. Spending requires means, but these industries offered something else as well – they offered practical marketing devices that captured, captivated and enticed poor consumers. Consumption and consumer markets depend on such devices but their role has been poorly understood both in the social sciences and in business studies and marketing.
While the analysis of consumption and markets has been carved up between academics and practitioners who have been interested in either their social and cultural life or their economic and commercial organization, consumption continues to be driven by their combination. Devising consumption requires practical mixtures of commerce and art whether the product is an insurance policy or the latest release iPad. By advancing the case for a more pragmatic understanding of how ordinary, dull, everyday consumption is arranged, the book offers an alternative to orthodox approaches, which will appeal to broader interdisciplinary audiences interested in questions about how, and why, consumer markets work.
Introduction 1. Unearthing the ‘Very Dirt of Private Fact’: Devices, Consumption and the Poor 2. Groovy Like the Market?: Government, Markets and Insurance 3. Charisma on the Doorstep: The Promotion of Industrial Assurance and Home Credit 4. Following the Line: Industrial Assurance, Home Credit and the Urge to Consume 5. Nudge, Nudge, Blink Blink: Understanding Financial Insecurity 6. Devising Consumption: a Pragmatic Approach Conclusion
Liz McFall is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Open University. Her research explores the historical significance of devices including advertising for making markets especially for challenging or dull products like life insurance. In ‘Devising Consumption’ she offers a pragmatic approach to understanding how technical, material, artistic and metaphysical elements collide in consumer markets. She is the author of Advertising: a cultural economy, co-editor of Conduct: sociology and social worlds and co-editor of the Journal of Cultural Economy.