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Cover I-PEEL: The International Political Economy of Everyday Life

4. Debt  

This chapter focuses on the key themes of money and finance in international political economy (IPE) analysis. It describes the concepts of commodification, assetization, and financialization, and how they apply to the case of student debt. In many countries, borrowing money to pay for tuition fees and living costs is an expected part of going to university. Thinking about the emergence of personal indebtedness in the higher education system helps to foreground the international political economy of debt. The chapter then turns to other kinds of debt, including sovereign debt and household debt, and considers the reasons why people go into debt and why debts are repaid (or not). Using Islamic finance as a case study, it looks at alternatives to debt, such as non-conditional grants and risk-sharing contracts. Finally, the chapter reflects on the moral and power dynamics that underpin interest-bearing loans, as well as demands for debt cancellation.