Community As A Financial Network: Mortgages, Citizenship, And Connectivity

Grant David Bollmer


This essay argues that the contemporary foreclosure crisis should be understood through the articulation of citizenship and community with financial networks in American culture. Much of the populist outrage over the contemporary financial crisis is related to the massive amount of money bailing out financial service corporations and banks on “Wall Street” while little goes towards helping Americans on “Main Street.” However, the dominant discourse surrounding community, homeownership, and banking in the United States defines this opposition as an illusion. This essay traces the history of this articulation, first through how debt and citizenship have been understood historically, then through representations of com-munity and banking that equate the two. I examine, first, the popular film It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), which defines community as an effect of banking policy and the liquidity of credit, and, second, the contemporary representation of banking as the locus of community. This discourse ideologically defines the role of citizenship as one in which community relations are defined as nothing other than networked flows of capital. The social network of a community is equated to the financial net-work of global capitalism. A good citizen is, consequently, defined as one who keeps capital flowing through their connectivity to banking and financial networks.



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