Credit and community: working class debt in the UK since 1880

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60 Citations (Scopus)


This book examines credit in working class communities since 1880, focusing on forms of borrowing that were dependent on personal relationships and social networks. It provides an extended historical discussion of credit unions, legal and illegal moneylenders (loan sharks), and looks at the concept of ‘financial exclusion’. Initially, the book focuses on the history of tallymen, check traders, and their eventual movement into moneylending following the loss of their more affluent customers, due to increased spending power and an increasingly liberalized credit market. They also faced growing competition from mail order companies operating through networks of female agents, whose success owed much to the reciprocal cultural and economic conventions that lay at the heart of traditional working class credit relationships. Discussion of these forms of credit is related to theoretical debates about cultural aspects of credit exchange that ensured the continuing success of such forms of lending, despite persistent controversies about their use. The book contrasts commercial forms of credit with formal and informal co-operative alternatives, such as the mutuality clubs operated by co-operative retailers and credit unions. It charts the impact of post-war immigration upon credit patterns, particularly in relation to the migrant (Irish and Caribbean) origins of many credit unions and explains the relative lack of success of the credit union movement. The book contributes to anti-debt debates by exploring the historical difficulties of developing legislation in relation to the millions of borrowers who have patronized what has come to be termed the sub-prime sector.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages320
ISBN (Print)9780199263318
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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