Debt as Power

By Richard H. Robbins and Tim Di Muzio

Debt as Power


  • Hardcover
  • eBook
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9326-9
  • Pages: 216
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: January 2016
  • BIC Category: Economics, finance, business & management / Economics, Society & social sciences / Globalization, Economics, Political economy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Economy, Globalization
  • Series: Theory for a Global Age


Debt as Power is a timely and innovative contribution to our understanding of one of the most prescient issues of our time: the explosion of debt across the global economy and related requirement of political leaders to pursue exponential growth to meet the demands of creditors and investors. The book is distinctive in offering a historically sensitive and comprehensive analysis of debt as an interconnected and global phenomenon.


'This is economic anthropology at its best - relevant, sophisticated, and readable. The authors brilliantly show how debt has been the essential glue that holds the world economic system together, an instrument that spreads untold misery and modern forms of slavery, to the continuing benefit of creditors. A powerful anthropological answer to Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Debt as Power is a clear-eyed and thoroughly original dissection of capitalism, an essential guide to understanding how today's world works...'

Richard Wilks, Distinguished Professor, Indiana University, USA

'This book is a crucial introduction to the phenomenon of debt...Debt, argue Di Muzio and Robbins, is more than an economic and social debacle: it is a technique of government for disciplining and managing people and the environment. At the same time, the individuation of the power to make money, by taking on debt, increasingly puts the world economy in the hands of everyday people. The realization of this power...could be the key to a more equitable and ecologically sane future.'

James Igoe, Associate Professor at the University of Virginia, USA

'Meticulously researched and clearly exposited, Debt as Power makes a most convincing case that modern capitalism must be explained as political economy. An indispensable companion to understanding contemporary world affairs.'

Martin Weber, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Queensland, Australia


Richard H. Robbins is Distinguished Teaching Professor in Anthropology at Plattsburg State University of New York, USA

Tim Di Muzio is Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Humanities and the Arts at the University of Wollongong, Australia


Introduction: Towards a stark utopia
1. Origins: war, national debt and the capitalist state
2. Intensification: war, debt and colonial power
3. Consequences: Exponential growth, magic money and austerity
4. What is to be done?

Sign up to our newsletter
and receive 10% off all future book orders