Consumer Credit in the United States: A Sociological by Donncha Marron (auth.)

By Donncha Marron (auth.)

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At the same time that installment credit was suffering such opprobrium, charge accounts began to develop within the very finest of retail establishment for an elite stratum of consumer. What such distinctions reveal, of course, is the stratified nature of credit in terms of how it was deployed and, most significantly, the ways in which its class, race, and gendered consumers were understood to be in need of different kinds of government. 38 ● Consumer Credit in the United States The Will to Consume: The Rise of Retail Installment Lending The selling of goods on time payments, or on the “installment plan,” demonstrates a different genealogy within the nineteenth century to that of cash lending.

In a strategic shift, their attention thus turned to the politicization of the small loan problem, not to eliminate and supplant the sharks, but to calculably control the legal conditions under which they acted. The ambition became one of taming the sharks thus widening the scope of the paternalistic protection of borrowers. Not legal repression or philanthropy but only the careful organization of the economic was held to be sufficient to solve this now manifestly “social” problem (Neifeld, 1941).

Hunt, 1999: 128). The response of such campaigns were therefore “urgent expressions of the self-assertion of upper and middle classes, who both feared the consequences of rampant urbanism and yet were committed to accelerated economic development which caused precisely the social problems that they feared” (p. 131). Arthur Ham accepted, however, that campaigning alone was insufficient to combat the problem of loansharking given how expansive and ingrained it had become (1909: 8). To understand why, the small loan lending problem has to be set within the context of the Progressive movement within the United States.

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