17 May 2018

The Social life of Digital Economy

Digital economy

Athropologists study the current financial turn towards cashless economies and explore the challenges faced by cash-reliant poor households dealing with (in)formal debt in the city. The research project is supported by the Independent Research Fund Denmark.

Photo of bottles
New  project will investigate multiple links between urban poverty, debt and cashlessness. (Photo:Emilija Zabiliute). 

State governments across the world are rapidly introducing new fiscal policies and technologies in order to eliminate cash transactions. Cash circulation is increasingly being replaced by mobile, online and card payments. The research project entitled “After money, what is debt?: Indebted urban poor households in emerging cashless economies” will examine empirically the impact of this global financial drive towards cashlessness on the urban poor in middle and high income countries.

The project  is supported with 5.7 million kr. from the Independent Research Fund Denmark. It will investigate multiple links between urban poverty, debt and cashlessness. The anthropologists will trace new skills, knowledge and competencies forged by the poor as a response to the digitalization of money. Theoretically, the project participants will seek to investigate the effects of cashlessness on urban debt relations, and localised notions of capital and financial liability. Overall, the project will bring new knowledge on how marginal households encounter and grapple with the diminishing use of currency in modernising cities.

The project is led by Associate Professor Atreyee Sen. She will carry out the research in collaboration with three post-doctoral researchers: Camilla Ida Ravnbøl (Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen), Emilija Zabiliute (Department of Anthropology, University of Edinburgh) and Marie Kolling (Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen and DIIS ).