About

The People’s Debt Diaries

 A real time action research on the ‘mortgaged lives’ and the biopolitics of producing indebted subjects across Europe
 

Research team

Prof Maria Kaika (principal investigator), Professor of Urban Regional and Environmental Planning, University of Amsterdam and Professor of Human Geography, University of Manchester

Dr Melissa Garcia Lamarca, (Research assistant), The University of Manchester

Dr Dimitra Siatitsa (Research assistant), independent researcher

 

 

Purpose of Research

  • The purpose of the research is to provide a better understanding of the impact of household debt on people’s lives, looking at how personal loans and mortgages engineer an intimate relationship between global financial markets, and the bodies and livelihoods of the workforce. It documents what signing a debt contract means for everyday practices, how it affects almost every aspect of life. For example, in what ways did sudden fluctuations of interest rates and currency exchange rates affect your household’s finances? What part of your labour do you feel goes into repayments? Does getting a mortgage affect your ability to care for your own health, education, wellbeing and for the people close to you?

  • the aim of the research is to document and make known to a broader public the difficulties and everyday experiences of coping and/or resisting with mortgage debt, building new social, political and personal alliances with new or old actors.

  • we wish to learn about how using diaries can elucidate aspects of indebtedness that people are not willing to, or are not offered the opportunity to talk about otherwise.

 

 

What are we doing and why?

 

We want to give voice people who experience difficulties with repayment of personal loans and mortgages. The aim of the research is to document and make known to a broader public the difficulties and everyday experiences of coping and/or resisting with mortgage debt, building new social, political and personal alliances with new or old actors.

 

The research involves diary across Europe. Diaries will be anonymous. The aim is to better understand:

 

  1. the social, institutional and personal mechanisms that lead to defaults on mortgage debt and other debt repayments;

  2. the way private debt defaults (in personal loans or mortgages) affect people’s lives: from housing to health, family and community relations, etc.;

  3. the way people cope with it in their everyday life, including finding (or not) new social and community alliances, new forms of coping financially, new housing arrangements, etc.;

  4. the social and political conflict involved in this process; and

  5. the changes in sense of community and citizenship.

 

 

Why diaries?

 

We are piloting the use of diaries to better understand indebtedness because it allows people to record and reflect in their own time and words what indebtedness has meant/means, on their personal experience and broader relations, interactions, impressions and feelings. Past research has shown that this method has enabled people to express and document, or even realise frustrations, processes, changes, etc. that would not have been aired otherwise.

 

Expected outcomes

We aim to construct narrative(s) and write and publish articles that give a voice and tell the story of what it means to live and cope with debt defaults. We aim for these stories to reach a broader audience. The objective is to raise awareness to the broader society, but also to policy makers at national and international level.

 

 

Confidentiality

  • This study is completely anonymous. We will not be collecting or retaining any information about your identity.

 

 

DIARY GUIDELINES

 
 

About the diary: what to write about?

This diary is a space to write about and reflect on your everyday experiences of (mortgage) indebtedness.

 

Write openly, freely and naturally. There is no “correct” or “incorrect” way to write. You could also use any ‘creative’ way of expressing your experience, such as writing this as a piece of literature, drawing, sketching, photographs, film or sound bites. You don’t have to follow the structure of the diary if it does not help you express your own thoughts and ideas. You can also ‘blend’ answering questions with more free flowing text.

 

We hope the exercise is a positive one. We look forward to reading your thoughts and learning from you.

Possible questions to think about while writing