This book offers a critical analysis of consumer credit markets and the growth of outstanding debt, presenting in-depth interview material to explore the phenomenon of mass indebtedness through the life trajectories of self-identified debtors struggling with the pressures of owing money. A rich and original qualitative study of the close relationship between financial capitalism, consumer aspirations, social exclusion and the proliferation of personal indebtedness, The Dark Side of Prosperity examines questions of social identity, subjectivity and consumer motivation in close connection with the socio-cultural ideals of an ’enjoyment society’ that binds the value of the lives of individuals to the endless acquisition and disposal of pecuniary resources and lifestyle symbols. Critically engaging with the work of Giddens, Beck and Bauman, this volume draws on the thought of contemporary philosophers including Zizek, Badiou and Rancière to consider the possibility that the expansion of outstanding consumer credit, despite its many consequences, may be integral to the construction of social identity in a radically indeterminate and increasingly divided society. A ground-breaking work of critical social research this book will appeal to scholars of social theory, contemporary philosophy and political and economic sociology, as well as those with interests in consumer credit and cultures of indebtedness.
Mark Horsley lectures in the Department of Law and Social Science at the University of Cumbria, UK.
’In The Dark Side of Prosperity, Mark Horsley offers a detailed theoretical and empirical analysis of the debt industry and the lives of those who suffer under the burden of consumer debt. The book is written in a lively, imaginative and accessible style and yet still manages to remain theoretically rigorous. This is an outstanding contribution, and it is destined to become the standard text against which all other sociological accounts of the debt industry will be measured.’ Simon Winlow, Teesside University, UK ’This study of the cultural and subjective motivations of debtors, and the history and economics of the growth in consumer credit, offers a new slant to understanding consumer debt markets. We discover that the driving forces behind the recent upsurge of consumer indebtedness are the cyclical availability of credit and pervasive individualistic narratives about aspiration and the enjoyment society.’ Colin Webster, Leeds Beckett University, UK