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Credit Scoring and Logistical Media: A Case Study on the Algorithmic Infrastructure of Personal Debt

Mon, May 29, 14:00 to 15:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo 202A


Credit scores have become an increasingly salient feature of contemporary life. Television commercials urge us to “find out our credit score” while online ads offer services promising to mitigate the effects of a low score. Although one may theorize the cultural and political impact of indebtedness in a variety of ways, I approach debt via a study of the technological mechanisms that concretely articulate it in (and to) everyday life. Taking a perspective informed by recent work in media studies, I suggest that computational systems play a central role in mediating debtor-creditor relations. More specifically, I argue that credit scores — and the computational techniques which support them — perform an essential logistical function, providing an important precondition for contemporary processes of capital accumulation, while simultaneously constituting an key avenue through which the abstract social forms of the economy are concretized within the phenomenal world of the neoliberal subject.