From ESA – Strategies & Activities
Thesis Spotlights – Discursive Construction and Materiality of Debt in Context of Housing: Forming Semi-Financialized Subjects
Tomáš Samec, PhD student, Czech Republic
Email: tomas.samec [at] fsv.cuni.cz; https://cas-cz.academia.edu/TomášSamec
Institution: Institute of Sociological Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Time: Enrolled in September 2014, date of defense in September 2018
Supervisor: Doc. Martin Hájek, PhD
Funding: The study was supported by Charles University, project GA UK No. 897716.
Housing debts have become not only fuel for the global financialized economy but an instrument for many dreams and worries to become true in the lives of debtors. The thesis explores the intersections of public and private discourses on housing debt in the case of the Czech Republic asking ‘to what extent have become households financialized through discourse – embracing financial products and logic of financial markets in the context of housing?’ The Czech Republic represents the region of Central and Eastern Europe experiencing a specific case of ‘rapid financialization’ since the 1990s’ transformation. The link between the mortgages, intergenerational financial transfers and the financialization of everyday life performed through discourse is unfolded through the framework of layered performativity.
In this framework rhetoric, sociotechnical devices and references to practices are examined to discover how housing debt became the most important site for the disciplining and responsibilisation of the (prospective) debtors, whereas mortgages serve as a technology of financial governance. In this process, the crucial role of the affect management was identified. The media performed the urgency to take on a loan; the narratives of debtors revealed various strategies to ‘tame the mortgages’ by transforming them from the feared debt to the reasonable financial tool which delivers certainty. The domestic and financialized realms are thus linked through affects making the households semi-financialized – accepting the logic of calculation and financial vocabulary, but essentially being risk-averse and longing for security.
The intergenerational transfers, in turn, serve to secure the households and essentially fuel the mortgage debt circuits which further reproduces the inequalities between the (soon-to-become) homeowners and those who may not afford the purchase. Together with the discourse which effectively disallows imagining and formulating a vivid alternative to homeownership achieved through mortgages this creates the potential for the housing crises and puts pressure on those who are not able to qualify for loans and thus reach for quality housing.