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Publication - Dr Samuel Kirwan

    On ‘those who shout the loudest’

    Debt advice and the work of disrupting attachments


    Kirwan, S, 2019, ‘On ‘those who shout the loudest’: Debt advice and the work of disrupting attachments’. Geoforum, vol 98., pp. 318-326


    This paper examines household debt in the United Kingdom, using the practices and organisation of the debt advice sector as a prism for understanding the changing role of debt in shaping the experience of poverty. Based upon fieldwork carried out with debt advisers within the Citizens Advice service, I explore how the mapping practices carried out by advisers reflect the varied connections between debtors and different creditors, as well as with significant others who become entangled in previous and ongoing money problems. In contrast to recent analyses of debt focusing on re-compositions of subjectivity through enfoldings of the temporal, I propose that the multiple connections with creditors, friends and family that constitute a debt problem suggest the need for a topological approach. Indeed, I argue that the specific form of interventions into debt sought and achieved by debt advisers need to be understood in these terms – as an attempt to disrupt and recompose these topologies. Taking into account the significant shift in the UK from

    consumer’ debts to ‘priority’ debts, the paper asks whether the UK debt advice sector can be seen as a challenge to the logic of ‘governing through debt’, or whether it serves to further the central role played by debt in the neoliberal re-structuring of the subject.

    Full details in the University publications repository