Executive summary

Digital Technologies of Debt Resilience is a pilot study into the everyday politics of indebtedness in Britain. One element engages directly with political actors seeking change to some aspect of the political economy of retail credit or personal debt; the other element looks directly with the indebted and how they use peer-to-peer information sharing on digital forums. Traditional understanding of social and cultural participation invokes spatial images of communities: clubs, neighbourhood activism or preserving local identities. Our project extends this understanding of communities to those formed by common political objectives (anti-poverty, financial reform, student debt) and/or personal circumstances (debt distress, mortgage arrears, insolvency and bankruptcy) in order to consider the personal and organizational resilience required to response to the on-going financial, economic, and increasingly political crisis that defines the post-2008 Age of Austerity.

This research project uncovered the multifaceted ways that individuals and civil society expose the protracted personal and societal processes dealing with debt. We discovered how individuals and a variety of civil society actors have stepped in to fill a pronounced policy void. The scale, impact and type of issues they tackle are as diverse as their methods; and the field is dominated by relatively few key individuals within small but effective organisations who are doing the bulk of the heavy lifting, but still only able to produce one-off campaigns and community outreach efforts.

This project uncovered a small network of key civil society organisations and digital network of individuals working hard with the (limited) resources they have available to take action on debt issues. For civil society groups it is often limited budgets, lack of resources or digital know-how leads to unclear and inconsistent messaging and further limits their capacity for impact. The vast majority of actors in this space lack basic infrastructure and sufficient resources to scale-up their activities. For individuals in peerto-peer forums the pressing issues of living and dealing with ‘indebtedness’ breaking the self-imposed silence is politics in action.

Download PDF. Digital technologies of debt resilience: everyday life and citizenship in the Age of Austerity: End of Project Report