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Microfinance and Its DiscontentsWomen in Debt in Bangladesh$
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Lamia Karim

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816670949

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816670949.001.0001

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The Social Life of Debt

The Social Life of Debt

(p.95) Chapter 4 The Social Life of Debt
Microfinance and Its Discontents

Lamia Karim

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter illustrates the social impact of NGO governmentality on women borrowers via eight case studies. These narratives show that microfinancing and NGO mandates have forced a tension between a woman’s debt and loan obligations to the NGO and their social obligations to family and community—creating a kind of “economy of shame.” NGOs primarily obtain consent for their partial sovereignty in this respect, if not in being the main providers of money and services to the poor. The recipients of such aid are indeed critical of their limited autonomy under NGO jurisdiction. However, without NGO intervention, these communities would otherwise languish in poverty and lose their opportunities to receive jobs, educations, aid and assistance during natural disasters, among other things. The consequences of noncompliance are simply too severe to ignore.

Keywords:   case studies, NGO governmentality, microfinancing, social obligations, economy of shame, noncompliance, autonomy, poverty, women borrowers

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