Published January 15, 2021
Congratulations to Associate Professor Nadine Shaanta Murshid on the publication of her article, "Examining microfinance participants' use of neoliberal language in Bangladesh" in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.
Murshid, N. S. (2020). Examining microfinance participants' use of neoliberal language in Bangladesh. Journal of the Society Work and Research, 11(2).
Objective: Microfinance is a prevalent international antipoverty tool, but little is known about the experiences and viewpoints of individual microfinance participants. I explored the experiences of microfinance participants to better understand the degree to which they view and accept the neoliberal norms that undergird microfinance strategies.
Method: Using grounded theory, discourse analysis, and known-sponsor sampling methods, I conducted 2 rounds of in-depth interviews with 60 women who participate in microfinance in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Results: In trying to be “good” entrepreneurs, participants became neoliberal subjects who take personal responsibility for poverty and intimate partner violence—factors that are beyond their control. Microfinance participants also exercised choice under limiting conditions and constraints within structures of patriarchy and poverty. Finally, they described “freedom” as freedom to work.
Conclusions: Findings corroborate the suggestion that neoliberalism and its products create consumers and producers—not citizens—who are taught to value labor in terms of efficiency and productivity but not labor rights and a working class quality of life. This study reveals how microfinance can be a vehicle of dispossession by financialization, how microfinance legitimizes capitalism at the micro level, and how it depoliticizes potential anticapitalist movements.