#debtCN is linked to the ESRC funded knowledge exchange project ‘Crafting an Alternative Politics of Debt’.

Debt, or more specifically household/personal indebtedness is the ‘strategic silence’ in contemporary debates about the state of politics, the economy and society.  This means is that every person employed to govern the economy – policy-maker, politician, and economist – knows that household (personal) debt is a major problem but chooses to do nothing about it for strategic political reasons. The term ‘indebtedness’  is used here to denote how debt changes the dynamics by which individuals, households and communities shape the economy. Households do not simply respond to economic stimulus, like low interest rates; they create the economy every day through their actions, reactions and inactions. This is relevant because it is far too easy to depict indebtedness as a ‘personal’ problem; this completely ignores that it is a widely shared problem across Britain and offers a clear warning sign of impending economic disaster. Despite this, policy makers are once again doing absolutely nothing to prevent the next big financial crisis — the household financial crisis.

#debtCN is a hashtag experiment seeking for a network between the academics, charities, policy and think tank researchers, civil society organisations, community organisations, political activists sharing ideas, information, research, news and events. By sharing content that shapes our understanding of debt or links the consequences of indebtedness to wider societal issues like poverty, austerity, inequality, financial inclusion/exclusion, debt collection and insolvency, debt advise, debt free living and many others.

The basic functionality of twitter means a # hashtag make possible a particular type of group content sharing using a microbloging platform. You can later search for your tweets or people you follow on twitters tweets, you can create Storify stream of particular topics or within a particular time frame.  In short, sharing to the hashtag creates a digital repository of content that can be used for researching or as general information, that is also searchable . We don’t know what the potential of this technology is so we are experimenting with this form of social media engagement to see if we can create a useful resource for those within the wider Debt Community Network to create a functioning repository of content shared between different network actors that could potentially become an intellectual commons.

Importantly, hashtags are mostly un-moderated discussion forums -we will have no control over who or what is shared – a hashtag is an open platform of engagement, meaning discussions are open and transparent, but difficult to police. Therefore, this experiment explores new ways for those teaching and learning political economy and cultural economy to share ideas and content, #debtCN is specific enough to ensure intentional use.

We ask everyone to use and share #debtCN to see if content sharing related to the key issues, concepts, ideas and case studies of the impacts and effects of debt/indebtedness. For example, media stories, images, podcasts related to the social, cultural or political aspects of debt and indebtedness. Experiment by asking questions or posting reflection on how you understand the effects or affects of debt.

ESRC grant number ES/M003051/1