My work focuses on the growing role of financial institutions, products and logics in the lives of low- and moderate-income households, primarily in the US, but also in Canada and the United Kingdom. One of the goals of my work is to develop frameworks for understanding life on the financial margins that move beyond dichotomies of inclusion and exclusion. Instead, I view the financialization of poverty as a market-making process that involves the constant reordering market insides and outsides through the deployment of various techniques and technologies by capital, the state and other actors to achieve various ends from profit to poverty alleviation and the redistribution of risk.
As a result, my work often centers around particular products and technologies involved in the (re)configuration of markets and the integration of financial logics into everyday life. Recently my attention has centered on the use of formalized rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs) called "lending circles" to make the risks of lending to those with little or no credit history measurable, tractable and priceable. More generally, however, I am interested in studying how social relations are reshaped by efforts to "include" and make the everyday risks of the poor platforms for financial innovation and product development. This "underserved" or "underbanked" marketspace is diverse and growing, and encompasses an array of products from securitized home rental payments and subprime mortgages to payday loans, prepaid cards and microloans.