Everyday Finance in Varieties of Capitalism: A sociological analysis of the credit crisis
Politics and International Studies The University of Warwick Coventry, United Kingdom
Recently the International Political Economy (IPE) literature has seen the initiative to develop new ways of investigation via the "Everyday IPE" approach (EIPE). In the debate about what EIPE should be and what it could perform, this paper takes the position that it is best understood as a method that transgresses the boundaries between IPE and sociology. Not only can such a conception overcome the old dichotomy between structure and agency, it can also shed significant light into the origins of the current credit crisis. Following these points, the paper is structured in several parts. After a short review of the EIPE literature, the article goes on to highlight the distinct features of an Everyday approach. It is explored how such a focus can complement traditional studies in IPE, that have overly focussed on the structural side of economic phenomena, and thus offer new insights into central IPE topics. Starting from the assumption that social reality is the interplay between structures and agents, an enquiry into the daily lives of economic actors reveals their constitutive nature to the system. Subsequently the paper moves on to the current economic downturn and analyses its origins in the light of an Everyday perspective. In this respect the societal support for the credit institutions´ practices is investigated from a micro and meso perspective. In doing so, this paper applies the EIPE methodology to two European economies that have been said to display different production regimes and credit institutions, the United Kingdom and Germany. The argument runs that complementarities between the macro institutions and the societal practices in finance can be highlighted. Falling back on different trends in the housing market, this point will then support the thesis of "European Societies", from a macro as well as from a micro point of view. Hence this article uses a new approach in IPE to offer novel explanations to the current credit crisis.