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TitleSocial and Psychological Dimensions of Personal Debt and the Debt Industry
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Page 2

Social and Psychological Dimensions of Personal Debt
and the Debt Industry

Page 158

Zamperini & Menegatto 143

that the main health outcomes are an increase in depression and anx-
iety; a rise in the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs; a general neglect
of overall health; and, in addiction, the production of secondary men-
tal health effects, such as an increase in suicide and alcohol death rates.
The principal social determinants are the increase in unemployment,
the deterioration of safety nets for social protection, the erosion of sav-
ings and pension funds, and the reduction in health and social spending
programmes.

The effects of unemployment and job loss on human relationships

The impact of the current economic crisis on the labour market had the
result of changing significantly the processes between the economic sys-
tem and society at large, thereby redesigning human relationships. The
progressive increase in the number of companies that are closed as a
consequence of accumulated debts or failures has contributed to lift-
ing the number of unemployed so that, especially in Italy, the labour
market is incapable of generating enough jobs to provide full-time
wage employment for all workers. Thus one of the major consequences
is the increase in flexibility in non-standard employment relations
(Goldthorpe, 1984; Casey, 1991; Green et al., 1993; Kalleberg, 2000).
This new type of job is a form of atypical employment (Córdova, 1986;
Delsen, 1995; De Grip et al., 1997) and it includes part-time work,
temporary contracts, short-term and contingent work, independent
contracting and precarious employment. These types of employment are
not new, but in the present economic crisis the experiences of employ-
ment are more and more uncertain. Compared with the past, the loss of
a job is no longer seen as something transitory or short term that affects
only certain segments of the population, but rather as a constant, struc-
tural, frequent, daily phenomenon (Sennet, 1998). Moreover, it spreads
over numerous employment sectors (companies, industries, professions,
etc.) and is of varying social composition (youth, women, managers,
professionals, workers of high-level specialisation or education). For
many employees or the unemployed, this change in working life which
we have witnessed from the fall of 2008 has caused a feeling of inse-
curity concerning the nature of one’s own existence and job (Stuckler
et al., 2011; Chang et al., 2013; Gili et al., 2013).

In this context, job insecurity has emerged as an important aspect,
in particular for employees who have economic responsibility for their
family or think that they will have serious difficulties in finding a new
job. To work is an activity through which people can obtain an income
to face the different needs of survival, their lifestyle, taking care of

Page 159

144 The Public Face of the Debt Industry

themselves and their family. At the economic level, precariousness and
job loss create damage by reducing the power of purchase, and endan-
gering the supply of primary goods such as food, a house, clothing and
so on. At the social level, a job enables someone to build a sustainable
social and professional identity to establish meaningful relationships,
giving the individual a sense of belonging.

Losing a job, and the acquired social status, can make someone expe-
rience feelings of shame, worthlessness, inferiority, guilt, apathy and
stigmatisation (Scambler, 2004; Zamperini, 2010) with the risk of social
exclusion, disadvantage and social isolation.

Moral debt

In the scenario of the current economic crisis, and especially from 2010,
European governments, international institutions, analysts and also the
media started to speak of the great crisis of the public – namely, a
sovereign debt crisis. This statement that governments have spent a lot
of money on social protection relegates to the background the bank-
ing crisis and the crisis of the entire financial system, and it exerts a
powerful hold over citizens. Behind this rhetoric lies a system that is
intended to defraud many people – for example, by pushing them to
take out a mortgage which it was already known they would not be
able to repay, by using false or no information, through inadequate
regulation, indiscriminate use of alternative loan products and a lack
of accountability in the industry (Nguyen and Pontell, 2010; see also
Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, 2011; Permanent Subcommittee
on Investigations of United State Senate, 2011). This type of fraud, also
known as “white-collar crime” (Rosoff et al., 2010), was committed at
various institutional levels by a long chain of social actors such as bro-
kers, business executives and underwriters, who lied with the aim of
maximising purchases of mortgages and reaping sumptuous rewards.
To identify these illegal activities is difficult, so the amount is under-
estimated (Black, 2008). The growth of the broker system has drastically
complicated and fragmented the loan origination process, thus reducing
accountability between the actors involved (brokers, lenders, appraisers,
etc.), and the lack of government standards has not allowed an oversight
of mortgage brokers. In addition, studies have found consistent evidence
that white-collar criminals explain their actions as legal and ordinary
occupations activities, a manner to redefine criminal act to alleviate
or eliminate culpability (Coleman, 2002; Shover and Hunter, 2010).
As Zuboff (2009) argues, this economic crisis derives from a business

Page 316

Index 303

post–socialist transition, 62
potentially problematic, 264
poverty, 2, 6–9, 14–5, 19–20, 24–5, 28,

31–2, 35, 37–8, 42, 59, 85, 88,
90–1, 94–5, 97, 103, 105, 116,
118, 119, 125, 146, 151, 156–7,
165, 180–1, 185–89, 191–2, 196,
199–200, 202, 219–21, 243–4,
253–4, 259–62, 265, 269,
278–280, 282–3, 285, 293, 295–97

Pratt, A., 119
private hospital, 257
privatization, 79, 81–2
propaganda, 6, 9–10, 123–5, 131–2,

135–6
property culture, 86
psychology, 6, 8, 11, 13–5, 21, 38–41,

48, 50, 52–7, 59, 60, 92, 96, 99,
113, 119, 132, 135, 141, 147,
155–9, 166, 178–180, 184, 186,
191, 196, 201–2, 204–6, 208,
219–21, 240–1, 249–51, 254, 271,
281, 283, 286,–87, 294, 297

psychosocial, 7, 21, 86, 94–5, 97, 101,
105, 147, 256

PSY–complex, 166, 168, 174, 176,
220

public debt, 2, 7, 14, 103, 138, 148,
150–1, 155, 241, 244–5, 261

public expenditure, 103, 129, 187

quality of life, 71, 88, 96, 142, 252
quick loan, 257

racism, 159, 178, 190, 274, 276, 279,
281, 283–5

racist, 268–9, 272, 274–6, 278, 280
research, the, 69, 80, 147–8, 185, 208,

260–1
refinance, 45, 257, 261, 265
refocusing of perspective, 196
refugee status, 190
regulate and restrict, 265
regulation of banks, 261
regulatory intervention, 184
religion, 162, 192

see also tithing; church
remittances, 262, 275, 285

repayment problems, 8, 62, 69, 72–7,
110

repossession, 68, 71–2, 76, 106, 118,
278

resource management, 257
responsibility, 2, 4, 10–1, 31, 40, 52,

61–2, 76, 93, 99, 102, 113, 142–3,
145–7, 149–50, 152–5, 162,
171–7, 184, 189, 199, 203, 205,
208–18, 227, 235, 245, 247, 258,
278, 289, 294

retail banking, 129
rhetoric of, 145, 180, 209, 284
rights, 8, 38, 56, 87, 88, 90, 92–4, 112,

136, 147, 153, 156, 187, 200–01,
206, 256, 282, 291–2, 296

risk, 8, 44, 45, 47, 50
rural wages, 259

sacrifice, 10, 50, 147, 148, 152–3, 155,
162

salary, 61, 70, 73–4, 80, 108–9, 249,
256–7, 262

Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC), 231

shame, 8, 25, 30, 32, 75, 88, 90, 94,
97, 111–5, 119, 142, 144, 147,
155–6, 159, 198, 278, 290

shared lived experience, 192
single people, 192, 197
Skapinakis, P., 119
social cohesion, 87
social drama, 88
social emergency, 91, 94–5, 97
social exclusion, 21, 37, 87–8, 90, 103,

107, 113, 144, 151, 156, 191,
198–9, 280

social heirarchy (hierarchy), 190, 275
social inclusion, 26, 87, 90, 182–3,

192, 202
social inequality, 95, 190, 241, 251–2
social justice, 92, 95, 133, 187, 249,

283, 292
social lending, 228–9, 232
social movements, 92, 97, 134
social processes, 147, 258
social services, 28, 90, 97, 130, 147,

245, 277, 287
social unrest, 35, 139, 150, 253

Page 317

304 Index

social, 2–7, 9–13, 15, 19, 21–2, 26,
28–9, 31, 33, 35, 37–8, 41, 46, 51,
54, 55, 57–60, 62, 68, 77, 79,
81–8, 90–107, 109–19, 123, 125,
129–35, 137–151, 153–168,
173–180, 182–3, 185, 187, 190–2,
195–6, 198–9, 202, 206, 209, 212,
216, 218–221, 225–6, 228–232,
234, 236–245, 249–53, 255–58,
260, 262–8, 270–3, 275, 277, 279

social psychological approach, 191
socioeconomic and environmental

factors, 101
sociology, 6, 13–5, 117, 119, 152, 156,

158, 251, 286, 297
solidarity, 115–6, 124, 251, 265, 277–8
Spain, 8, 9, 79, 84–92, 94–5, 99,

127–8, 157, 242, 268, 290
Special Interest Group of Municipal

Authorities (SIGOMA), 188, 202
spending on healthcare, 190
state, the, 15, 20, 25, 37, 62, 78–9,

88–9, 97, 102, 116, 133, 138, 146,
152, 167, 184, 204, 217, 235, 249,
251–2, 258, 261, 263, 266, 270,
284–5, 287

staying informed about financial
matters, 183, 192

structural violence, 89, 156
student loans, 50, 52, 225, 247, 249
subprime lending, 45, 57–8
suicides, 90, 93, 95, 105
Swiss franc loans, 61–2, 65–6, 68, 73,

76, 81
systemic attention, 199

taxation, 45, 129, 131, 246, 248, 259,
263, 280

territory, 12, 242, 258
Thatcher government, 123
The context of personal debt in EL

Salvador, 258
theory of knowledge in context, 191

Thoresen Review of Generic Financial
Advice, 184, 201

tithing, 275
see also church; religion

transactional, 260
transformative, 98, 195, 293–4
truck shops, 277

underground economy, 87
unemployment, 11, 47, 60, 62, 75–6,

86, 90, 102–4, 109, 117, 125, 139,
141–3, 151, 155, 165, 197, 201,
215, 225, 244, 246–8, 250, 254,
263, 266, 285, 292

universal credit, 189
Universal Declaration of Human

Rights, 92

Vaso De Leche, 259
vested interests, 199
violence, 4, 6, 20, 38, 88–9, 97, 111,

119, 138, 146, 155–6, 189, 243,
251, 263–4, 278, 296

wages, 12–3, 21, 42–3, 46, 48, 50, 56,
59, 86, 102–4, 125, 147, 187, 201,
205, 235, 256, 259, 265, 270–1,
289, 292, 296

welfare, 7, 14, 20–6, 28, 30, 32, 36–8,
41, 46–7, 58, 81, 88, 95, 97, 102,
116, 126, 132, 139, 145–7, 151,
164–5, 167, 178, 187–8, 200, 202,
221, 227, 235, 245, 253, 254, 270,
273–4, 281–3, 285, 292–3, 297

welfare dependency, 274
welfare state, 22, 36, 88, 102, 139,

145, 147, 151, 165, 167, 281
wellbeing, 9, 11, 35, 50–1, 94, 96, 101,

105–7, 109, 111, 115, 121, 134,
140, 142, 151, 190, 223, 278, 284,
288

wider projects, 257
working poor, 26, 268, 274, 276,

278–9, 284

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