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A Relationship and a Practice: On the French Sociology of Credit

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Lazarus,  Jeanne
Centre de sociologie des organisations (CSO), Sciences Po, Paris, France;
Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies (MaxPo), MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Lacan, L., & Lazarus, J.(2015). A Relationship and a Practice: On the French Sociology of Credit. Paris: MaxPo.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0024-C6BB-E
Abstract
This paper aims to describe the social studies of credit developed in France over the past dozen years. We argue that this French sociology of credit, mostly centered on France, can be useful for researchers analyzing other countries, with other institutional particularities, because it proposes a specific method and a specific way to raise questions: credit is mostly understood as a result of social interactions embedded in organizational and legal structures. French researchers also deeply analyze the consequences of the organization of the credit market for inequalities, social stratification, and people’s life experiences. The first part of the paper focuses on works that have examined credit as a social test, looking at the institutional, technical, and social frameworks of money lending. Then, credit is understood as a sociological experiment: how is it integrated into household economies? How do people use forms of credit? Finally, the third part concentrates on credit failure, when a bank loan becomes a debt. This aspect is mostly framed in French sociology as “over-indebtedness,” which is an administrative and a social category. Throughout the paper, we address credit as both a relationship and a practice. This approach is heuristic, as we seek to demonstrate, because it enables us to show that credit is a social and political issue.