Debt and Discipline

Tayyab Mahmud


Neoliberal restructuring of the economy created a symbiosis of debt and discipline. New policies displaced Keynesian welfare, facilitated financialization of the economy, broke the power of organized labor, and expanded debt to sustain aggregate demand. Ever-increasing sections of the working classes were brought within the ambit of the credit economy. Constructs of individual responsibility and human capital were refashioned to facilitate assemblage of subjects who would engage the financialized economy as risk-taking entrepreneurs. Engulfment in debt induced self-discipline and conformity with the logic of the financialized economy and precarious labor markets.