Your network editor has reposted this from H-Announce. The byline reflects the original authorship.
Debt at a Distance: China’s Debt Collection Callers during Covid-19
Dr. Tom McDonald
Department of Sociology
The University of Hong Kong
During the early stages of China’s Covid-19 outbreak — which happened to coincide with the nation’s Spring Festival celebrations — severe restrictions on nationwide travel were enacted, leaving millions numbers of workers stuck in their hometowns and unable to return to their workplaces. Many workers faced an unexpected shortfall in their earnings and as a result missed repayments on loans and credit cards. This paper examines how China’s financial institutions and debt collection agencies attempted to enforce debts “from a distance” during this period, along with debtors’ responses to these efforts. We document how both parties’ actions were framed by broader ongoing regulatory shifts whereby the state has aimed to ‘civilise’ debt collection in China. We ask what the implications of cold calling, debt collection scripts, automated messaging and Artificial Intelligence had for the moral performativity of debt collection and repayment? We argue that Covid-19 destabilised the moral norms surrounding debt, leaving debtors, debt collectors and the state struggling to decipher appropriate ways to enact debt relations.
About the Speaker
Dr. Tom McDonald is an anthropologist at the Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on technology and society in China. His current research investigates the convergence of digital money, credit and social media in China. He has published articles in several respected academic journals, including American Anthropologist, China Quarterly, and Ethnos.
About the organiser
Sci-Tech Asia Website: https://www.scitechasia.org/
TechnoViews Podcasts: https://rss.com/podcasts/technoviews/
Dr. Loretta Lou
Co-convener of Sci-tech Asia Seminar