The Anthropological Study of Financialization
This chapter discusses the critical stakes in an anthropology of financialization. By drawing out contesting expectations, anthropology also reveals how the very fact of financialization is problematic insofar as people believe that some things should remain out of bounds for finance. So, for example, with the financialization of water services in Italy, which has emerged as a counterpart to austerity, insofar as the depletion of public funds encouraged private investments in a public good. Financialization thereby brings about a social dynamism, which the finance sector represents as inclusive and enabling. Financialization is welcomed with a rhetoric of investment, as if its services and instruments are there to encourage and validate people’s willingness to put money away, lock some of it up, assume long-term commitments, and service loans, for the sake of their aspirations for the future.