Personal Debt, Cognitive Delinquency and Techniques of Governmentality: Neoliberal Constructions of Financial Inadequacy in the UK


Carl Walker, School of Applied Social Science, University of Brighton, Brighton, BN1 9PH.



In the UK in recent years, there has been a considerable and sustained increase in both levels of personal debt and over-indebtedness. This commentary argues that recent UK policy formulation on personal debt management has sidelined problematic macroscopic political and economic changes by locating personal debt as a problem of individual financial incompetence. Through specific institutions, tools, techniques and practices, certain configurations of people in debt have been rendered knowable and changeable. In doing so, public policies that have brought about a greater need for a greater number of people to rely on personal debt remain largely beyond public view and have instead been reconstituted as problems of access to financial capability training. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.