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Title: Political economy of consumer debt in developing countries : evidence from Turkey
Author: Karacimen, Elif
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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This dissertation analyses the rise in consumer debt in developing countries over the last decade by drawing on the case of Turkey. It adopts a theoretical framework based on a political economy approach and examines the macroeconomic, institutional, political, and historical environment in which the rise in consumer debt has taken place. By locating the factors of indebtedness within an historically determined socioeconomic context the dissertation demonstrates the specific character of the rise in consumer credit in the age of financialisation. It is shown that consumer credit has grown markedly and its rise has been associated with related changes in the socioeconomic conditions within which the credit system operates as well as in the character of borrower-lender relations and in the perceptions and attitudes towards credit use within society. Analysis of the Turkish economy in the post-2001 crisis further shows that the interplay between the real and financial sectors has boosted consumer debt in the country. There is much publicly available evidence indicating the rapid expansion of consumer credit to low-income wage earners in Turkey. The empirical section of the dissertation focuses on how and why workers have become increasingly involved with the financial system. The research is based on empirical material collected through questionnaires and interviews with workers in the metal sector of industry. The results show that consumer debt in Turkey has become a part of the daily life of workers as a consequence of, first, growing dependence on debt to support basic reproduction of labour power and, second, of the aggressive marketing strategies of banks towards consumers. Further, the results provide evidence of a link between workers' debt and the type of wage employment by demonstrating that insecurity of employment and income have increased the tendency to borrow, and thus the vulnerability of workers to debt. Finally, there is an unequal power relationship between banks and workers which has allowed banks to extract profits out of wages and salaries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral