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What are public attitudes towards financial capability? Evidence from focus groups in London

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Financial capability is a controversial area of public policy. Critics allege that it is part of a ‘financialisation’ agenda to turn people from citizens into subjects while supporters say that financial capability is important to lead an independent life. But what do people think of financial capability? This matters because public support is important for the success of financial capability policies. This paper reports evidence of public attitudes from a focus-group study in London which asked two questions. What do people think of financial capability? Do people think policy should target financial institutions rather than individuals? The results show that people support financial capability and do not think they are turned into financial subjects. However, some of their views overlap with a weaker version of financialisation, particularly on home ownership. Participants also suggest that the priority now is to target institutions rather than individuals.
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Keywords: Financial Services Authority; financial capability; financial crisis; financial inclusion; financialisation; investor-subject

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Economics, Walton Hall, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK

Publication date: March 4, 2014

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