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Eric Hirsch

In this issue’s forum, Nigel Rapport takes his lead from Georg Simmel, who asked how society is possible. Simmel notes that every individual has a sense of being connected to others, and it is through these connections that the individual has a ‘grasp of the whole complex as society’ (1971: 8). But this understanding is only realised through particular, concrete interactions. The individual in Simmel’s sociology, then, can only exist as an individual through this engagement with others – with, in short, ‘society’. It is this set of relations, it seems, that makes society possible. However, Simmel suggests that the picture an individual gains of the Other through personal contact is based on certain distortions – classifications of a general and conventional nature, some of which may be alienating. At the same time, Simmel also indicates that the individual simultaneously remains separate from society: ‘It seems, however, that every individual has in himself a core of individuality which cannot be re-created by anybody else whose core differs qualitatively from his own. . . . We cannot know completely the individuality of another’ (9–10).

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The emergence of the global debt society

Governmentality and profit extraction through fabricated abundance and imposed scarcity in Peru and Spain

Ismael Vaccaro, Eric Hirsch and Irene Sabaté

As a result of the financialization of household and national economies, indebtedness has become a system of domination shaping the making of contemporary subjects. Th is sort of governmentality through debt is a multifaceted phenomenon affecting people’s economic and political behavior in both the North and the South. Disguised and legitimized by the moral obligation to repay debts, and by promises of upward social mobility (for the working classes in the North) and of development (for the population of the Global South), indebtedness disciplines households and neutralizes political agency under finance capitalism, as our ethnographic examples on the mortgage crisis in Spain and on microfinance in Peru reveal.