Classification situations: Life-chances in the neoliberal era
This article examines the stratifying effects of economic classifications. We argue that in the neoliberal era market institutions increasingly use actuarial techniques to split and sort individuals into classification situations that shape life-chances. While this is a general and increasingly pervasive process, our main empirical illustration comes from the transformation of the credit market in the United States. This market works as both as a leveling force and as a condenser of new forms of social difference. The U.S. banking and credit system has greatly broadened its scope over the past twenty years to incorporate previously excluded groups. We observe this leveling tendency in the expansion of credit amongst lower-income households, the systematization of overdraft protections, and the unexpected and rapid growth of the fringe banking sector. But while access to credit has democratized, it has also differentiated. Scoring technologies classify and price people according to credit risk. This has allowed multiple new distinctions to be made amongst the creditworthy, as scores get attached to different interest rates and loan structures. Scores have also expanded into markets beyond consumer credit, such as insurance, real estate, employment, and elsewhere. The result is a cumulative pattern of advantage and disadvantage with both objectively measured and subjectively experienced aspects. We argue these private classificatory tools are increasingly central to the generation of “market-situations”, and thus an important and overlooked force that structures individual life-chances. In short, classification situations may have become the engine of modern class situations.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Fligstein, Neil & Goldstein, Adam, 2010. "The Anatomy of the Mortgage Securitization Crisis," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt9bh786v2, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
- Brian T. Melzer, 2011. "The Real Costs of Credit Access: Evidence from the Payday Lending Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 517-555.
- Mark Furletti, 2002. "An overview and history of credit reporting," Payment Cards Center Discussion Paper 02-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
- Christian Weller, 2009.
"Credit Access, the Costs of Credit and Credit Market Discrimination,"
The Review of Black Political Economy,
Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 7-28, March.
- Christian E. Weller, 2008. "Credit Access, the Costs of Credit and Credit Market Discrimination," Working Papers wp171, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
- Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162, July.
- Edward N. Wolff, 2012. "The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class," NBER Working Papers 18559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Miller, Peter & O'Leary, Ted, 1987. "Accounting and the construction of the governable person," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 235-265, April.
- Cooper, David J. & Sherer, Michael J., 1984. "The value of corporate accounting reports: Arguments for a political economy of accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 9(3-4), pages 207-232, October.
- Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496.
- Marianne Bertrand & Adair Morse, 2011. "Information Disclosure, Cognitive Biases, and Payday Borrowing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(6), pages 1865-1893, December.
- Marianne Bertrand & Adair Morse, 2009. "Information Disclosure, Cognitive Biases and Payday Borrowing," Working Papers 2009-007, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
- Christian Weller, 2012. "Unburdening America's Middle Class," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 55(1), pages 23-52, January.
- Hacker, Jacob S., 2008. "The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195335347.
- Ethan Cohen-Cole, 2008. "Credit card redlining," Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper QAU08-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
- Michael A. Stegman & Robert Faris, 2003. "Payday Lending: A Business Model that Encourages Chronic Borrowing," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 17(1), pages 8-32, February.
- Ethan Cohen-Cole, 2011. "Credit Card Redlining," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 700-713, May.
- Langley, Paul, 2009. "The Everyday Life of Global Finance: Saving and Borrowing in Anglo-America," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199573967.
- Martha Poon, 2009. "From New Deal institutions to capital markets: commercial consumer risk scores and the making of subprime mortgage finance," Post-Print halshs-00359712, HAL. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:38:y:2013:i:8:p:559-572. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.