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Session Overview
JS_RN05_RN09_II_09: Financialisation and its Impacts on Everyday Life I
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Valentina Ausserladscheider, University of Cambridge
Location: BS.3.20
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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‘Fuck You Money!’: Seeking Early Retirement And Financial Independence As A Paradox Of Hyper-capitalist Strategies As Well As Anti-capitalist Resistance

Hilje Van der Horst, Stefan Wahlen

Wageningen Uversity, Netherlands, The

Increasingly people seek financial independence and early retirement (FIRE) through strategies of low spending, high saving and investment. This FIRE movement shows a paradox: On the one hand, the practices propagated are highly capitalist in nature, and consist of intense financialization of household practices and decision making. On the other hand, there is a striking sense of protest against the current capitalist system that exploits both people and nature. People affiliated with FIRE rethink their way of living and look for a way out through consumption and investment strategies. Having the kind of money and assets that allow them to say ‘Fuck you!’ to any kind of paid activity is seen as the ultimate freedom. We will scrutinize FIRE by concatenating the theoretical lenses of diverse economies with that of social practices and by means of a content analysis of online blogs. Diverse economies emphasize marginalized and hidden practices, including creative alternatives and challenges to capitalist neoliberal society. Theories of practices account for the myriad of day to day activities that have been hidden from mainstream economic thinking. We attest that the combination of both sets of thinking will assist in critically assessing the paradoxes that the FIRE movement entails.

Connecting Policy With The Personal: UK Pension Reforms And Individual Financial Decision Making

Hayley James

University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Automatic enrolment into workplace pensions was introduced in 2012 to stem the falling levels of private pension saving. The policy has led to more people participating in workplace pensions; yet, most are saving at minimum default contribution rates (which are unlikely to deliver adequacy in later life) and are not engaging with financial incentives offered for greater contributions. The economic models of decision-making that have provided the foundation for the pensions industry and supporting policy have not been able to explain sufficiently why people are not engaging with pension saving as expected.

This research approaches pension decision-making as a practice embedded in the subjectivities of everyday life, drawing on literature from the sociology of consumption. The research follows a constructivist-interpretivist methodology using semi-structured interviews with 42 participants aged 25 to 45 years old who had experienced automatic enrolment into workplace pensions. The findings suggest that there are different approaches to pension decisions which connect to the social, cultural and moral worlds of individuals. The research identified four pension decision-making approaches which responded to the shifting context of an individual’s everyday experience. These approaches represent specific challenges for policy and industry in terms of recognising the complex and varied nature of personal interaction with pension decisions.

This paper provides an empirically-grounded and theoretical understanding of pension decision-making, which contributes to the formation of a sociological model of financial decisions as a practice of consumption. It also contributes to commercial and policy solutions which may help to improve pension adequacy in later life.

Multigenerational Householding in the Age of Financialization: Mortgage Family Practices in Warsaw

Marta Olcoń-Kubicka, Mateusz Halawa

Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

As the first postsocialist generations was going on their own in Warsaw, Poland, since 2000s, and among the middle-classes, the focus on lifestyle, consumption, and educational achievement gave way to a new passion—real estate. The global trends of rising wealth inequalities and the financialization of housing, combined with the local housing crunch, has made homeownership a challenging and fraught project for those starting new households. This paper uses ethnographic research to investigate practices of householding among first-time mortgagors against the background of emerging postsocialist housing imaginaries, which tie housing assets to visions of current and future good life. The mortgaged apartment becomes overdetermined as not only shelter, but status object, passive-income investment, source of asset-based welfare, and future gift or inheritance. Despite the purported individualization built into mortgage contracts, we show how mortgage debt in the name of young household members is attached to, embedded in, and cared for in broader kinship networks. This way intergenerational family moralities and practices of relational accounting are revealed as a central and overlooked aspect of mortgage finance. Focusing on the relationship between mortgages, families, and financialization, we analyse how the classed experience of unequal housing trajectories in the past and the present shapes expectations of and decisions about the future. The paper is based on ethnographic research in 28 young family households in Warsaw and on interviews with 18 parents supporting their adult children’s pursuit of homeownership.

Narratives of Housing Financialisation of Young Adults from the Czech Republic

Tomáš Samec

Institute of Sociology of Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic

Many European cities are dealing with the impacts of housing financialisation. In this paper, I present the case of the Czech urban centers such as Prague and Brno which currently face housing affordability crises. The data from Czech Statistical Office indicate that since 2016 the prices of apartments in Prague have risen by approximately 35%. I aim to unfold whether increasing housing prices affect the housing pathways of young adults – people in their 20s and early 30s. Young adults are currently entering housing market which relies heavily on the mortgage loans, where housing is becoming an investment and where they compete with expansion of short-term rental such as AirBnB. In other words, they are entering financialised housing market. I study their housing pathways through the interviews and focus groups with youngs adults from Prague, Brno, Pilsen and Olomouc collected in the ongoing research project. I aim to focus on what discourses surround the practical actions of young adults; to what extent the language and narratives are financialized themselves. Does financialisation of housing incribes in the language of young adults or does certain discursive practices perform the housing financialisation; or both? Specifically, I explore to what extent are young adults able to express their stance toward their housing situation with or without usage of financial language and unfold how they frame their understanding of the current situation on housing market.

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