In this dissertation, I explore the role of values and moral judgments in credit markets. I focus on the frequenting of “fringe banks,” controversial institutions that serve those who have limited access to mainstream credit markets as a result of poverty and/or poor/no credit history. Among other intriguing results, I find compelling evidence that there are persistent statistical differences in payday and pawn loan usage across racial and ethnic groups that cannot be explained by disparities in wealth and credit access. Instead, I argue that they are the result of variations in the perception of the propriety of such loans, variations that have their root in the legacy of racial discrimination in mainstream credit markets in the United States. To make this case, I utilize both quantitative and qualitative data as well as a variety of novel statistical techniques. I analyze cross-site multi-wave survey data collected by The Center for Community Capital, The National Opinion Research Center and The Annie E. Casey Foundation. I strengthen my argument by drawing on excellent focus group data supplied by The Center for Community Capital and The Center for Responsible Lending. This study represents a unique contribution to the sociology of credit and finance and demonstrates the importance of synthesizing structural and cultural approaches to the study of economic activity. (author abstract)
The moral economy of debt: Race, ethnicity and perceptions of fairness in credit markets for the poor
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