Taking on debt: Perspectives from across the social sciences

August 24th 2015

Understanding why households become over-indebted is a crucial step to planning interventions at the level of the consumer or through policy, but it is not a straightforward task.

While it is tempting to focus on “over-indebtedness,” there are vastly different schools of thought as to how to define what that means, why people become take on unsustainable debt, and what can be done about it.

Living it up in Lisbon: A "best of" by two residents

May 5th 2015

After nearly three years living in Lisbon, Gawain and I have racked up a pretty good knowledge of its sights, museums, eating places, and drinking dwellings. In fact, there is so much to see within day trip distance of the city, we're very glad that we live here and are not just visiting! Our guests are always astonished by what Lisbon has to offer and swear they are going to pack up and move here.

The following is a guide to our favourite places in Lisbon and nearby towns.

Anthropology for economists

March 14th 2015

Do economists read anthropology? Certainly David Graeber's and Gillian Tett's books have gained traction. Graeber's "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" ranks at #19 in Amazon's economic theory books and has even spawned a companion guide to explain the book's main points. Tett's Fool's Gold discussed the causes of the global financial crisis and was reviewed in places like the New York Times.

But there are many other books written by economic anthropologists that could be of interest to economists. I recently discussed what anthropologists can to to promote their work in a short article in the Society for Economic Anthropology's section of Anthropology News.

Consumers, users, clients, subjects: Towards people-centric collaborations

February 18th 2015

People working in consumer finance who want to share perspectives across different sectors and disciplines face a communication problem: finding a shared language to talk about people and trying to understand their lives.

The bad news is that “thought silos” persist and block possibilities for valuable collaborations. The good news is that a great deal of collaborative work is already underway that demonstrates the value of getting past the silos.