Living U.S. Capitalism: The Normalization of Credit/Debt
This research develops a theoretical account of cultural meanings as integral mechanisms in the normalization of credit/debt. Analysis derives these meanings from the credit/debt discourses and practices of 27 white middle-class consumers in the United States and tracks their negotiation in patterns and trajectories in social and market domains. Discussion elaborates the ways informants normalize credit/debt in transposing their categories, in improvising meaning combinations, and in suturing the meaning patterns to particular subject positions in constituting themselves as consumers. Theoretical contributions (1) distinguish consumers’ collaborative production of cultural meanings with friends, family, and others in the social domain and with financial agents and institutions in the market domain and (2) document the productive capacities of these meanings in patterns and trajectories in configuring people as consuming subjects. Implications situate such cultural reproduction processes in the United States in discussing how the national legacy of abundance informs the normalization of credit/debt.
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