The effects of over-indebtedness on interpersonal relationships

Steadman, Jamie Robert (2017) The effects of over-indebtedness on interpersonal relationships. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis examines the effects that living with unmanageable levels of debt has upon the borrower’s interpersonal relationships. In recent years, Canadian individuals and households have accumulated record levels of consumer debt and consumer bankruptcies are on the rise. While the material reality of problematic debt and the economic deprivation that invariably accompany it have received significant attention from researchers, the interpersonal consequences of living with unmanageable debt remain relatively neglected. Numerous sociological and psychological studies demonstrate how important healthy interpersonal relationships are in maintaining subjective well-being and mental health. In this dissertation, I utilize in-depth interviews to uncover detailed descriptions of how living with problematic levels of indebtedness can have a negative impact on these important interpersonal relationships. Data generated from these interviews reveal novel insights not yet described in the sociological literature. They describe the manner in which heavily indebted individuals often struggle to maintain healthy familial, friendship, and romantic relationships. These data also reveal the difficulties that debtors experience in trying to form new relationships – especially romantic ones. In revealing how over-indebtedness places the ability to form and maintain relationships in jeopardy, this research brings to light an under-appreciated social problem. I argue that the ubiquity of consumer debt in our contemporary neoliberal economy makes this research particularly salient, not only in understanding the scope of the problem, but also by informing social policy that is designed to mitigate it.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 12934
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 163-176).
Keywords: Debt, Relationships, Neoliberalism, Student loan, Financialization
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: October 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Debt -- Physiological aspects; Relationship quality

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