Skip to main content

The US Debtfare State and the Credit Card Industry: Forging Spaces of Dispossession

Buy Article:

$51.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Abstract:  Credit card debt is a ubiquitous feature of neoliberal capitalism. To explain the notable growth of credit card usage in the US, I adopt a historical materialist approach that employs two key analytical concepts—cannibalistic capitalism and the debtfare state—to capture the material, institutional and ideological dimensions of this process. Viewed within the bounds of cannibalistic capitalism, a mode of accumulation primarily based on the expansion of fictitious capital and secondary forms of exploitation, the debtfare state enhances the social power of money by allowing major credit card issuers (banks) to generate high levels of income from uncapped interest rates and policies that ensure the extension of plastic money to those who fall within Marx's category of the surplus population. While the expansion of debt subjects surplus workers to the disciplinary requirements of the market, it is unable to suspend the main tensions of cannibalistic capitalism, prompting ongoing reconstructions of the debtfare state.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Global Development Studies and Department of Political Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada;

Publication date: March 1, 2013


Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more