Limited access to financial services, such as banking and credit, impedes economic development in impoverished communities, which has prompted policy-makers, private institutions and NGOs to develop strategies to address financial inclusion. Drawing on a series of illustrative case studies, Samuel Kirwan examines the various types of policy implementation, and considers the social impact and efficacy of such economic intervention.
From exploring India’s micro-credit industry to explaining the rise of mobile banking in South Africa, the book employs a social science tool box to make sense of the various policy areas and initiatives involved in confronting economic inequality. Analysing both developed and developing markets, Kirwan highlights the potentially detrimental effects of financial inclusion strategies, such as the spread of sub-prime mortgage lending in the US. While acknowledging the risks and pitfalls of government-backed and private financial inclusion practices, the author, nevertheless, makes a strong case for the value of financial inclusion both as a conceptual term for clarifying the stakes of material poverty and as a policy tool that creates a space for meaningful changes in economic practices.
An insightful take on the role of government policy in combatting inequality, the book is a valuable resource for researchers examining the socio-economic dimensions of poverty and attempts to address it.
Samuel Kirwan is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick. He is researching the sociology of everyday indebtedness.