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Dispossession by Inclusion: Examining the Nonprofit Spaces of the Democratization of Finance
In the last thirty years, the ‘democratization of finance’ has resulted in an uneven economic landscape with benefits for some and burdens for many. In this talk, I examine the democratization of finance by focusing on nonprofit financial coaching programs designed to democratize financial knowledge and promote financial inclusion for low and moderate-income (LMI) urban residents in the United States. Drawing on 14 months of in-depth qualitative research in Boston, MA, I show how financial coaching programs shape the financial behaviors of LMI clients, including encouraging the use of credit for survival. As municipal and consumer debt grows unabated, I argue that the financial inclusion of LMI populations needs to be understood, first and foremost, as a process of debt expansion that is fundamental to the ongoing financialization of the economy. In doing so, this talk illustrates where and how the financial services industry is expanding its reach into the lives of LMI populations and contributes a geographical understanding of the spaces and subjects of financial dispossession.