Recombinant Economics: Exploring Distributed Agency in Consumer Finance
Robbins, Thomas J.
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This work traces the relationship of individual persons to national economic phenomena associated with consumer finance. The work follows the assemblage of individual consumer credit/debt agents through credit reporting and credit scoring, through to the aggregation of these agents in student loan-backed securitization and credit ratings. The work focuses on the unique technico-cultural constructions produced when human subjects are operatively conjoined to other related discursive and material objects, including related legislation, private corporations, and governmental bodies. The work explores how these unique constructions form stable networks connecting individuals to larger socio-economic settings: networks at once revealing the profoundly distributed nature of both ‘agents’ and their ‘agency,’ and at the same time intimating alternative approaches to questions of individual and collective agency outside the agent/structure dichotomy. The work concludes by addressing the place of this research in consumer finance generally, and the role of consumer finance in contemporary US economics broadly.