There is a quiet crisis of debt collection practices that damage not only the lives of debtors but that draw in those connected to their lives without consent. In this talk, I will draw on collaborative work with Parijat Chakrabarti, Isabel Jijon, and Katie Donnelly to demonstrate the range of damages wrought by debt collection practices. I will then turn to the lack of infrastructure for justice and describe how my new Debt Collection Lab is beginning to build new infrastructure to track and analyze the injustices of debt collection.
Frederick “Fred” Wherry is currently the Townsend Martin, Class of 1917 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and the Director of the Dignity + Debt Network (a partnership between Princeton and the Social Science Research Council: dignityanddebt.org). Professor Wherry is the author or editor of nine books, including Credit Where It’s Due: Rethinking Financial Citizenship (with Kristin Seefeldt and Anthony Alvarez), The Oxford Handbook of Consumption (with Ian Woodward), Money Talks (with Nina Bandelj and Viviana Zelizer), and Measuring Culture (scheduled for June 2020, with John Mohr, Chris Bail, and others). He is also the sole author of The Philadelphia Barrio and other books. He earned his Master’s in public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School and completed his doctorate in sociology at Princeton University in 2004. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, he served as a faculty member at Michigan, Columbia, and Yale, before returning to Princeton. He has served in advisory roles at the Boston Federal Reserve, the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program, and the Mission Asset Fund, and was elected as the 2018 president of the Social Science History Association, and won elections as chair of the Economic Sociology section and the Consumers and Consumption section in the American Sociological Association. He is currently on the board of directors for the Financial Clinic. He is also on the advisory board for the Race in the Marketplace (RIM) Network. At Stanford University Press, he serves as the co-editor (with Jennifer Lena) for a book series on Culture and Economic Life.
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