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From neoliberal dreams to precarity: micro-entrepreneurs and family debt in Kyrgyzstan

Satybaldieva, Elmira, Sanghera, Balihar (2023) From neoliberal dreams to precarity: micro-entrepreneurs and family debt in Kyrgyzstan. International Labor and Working-Class History, 103 (Spring). pp. 126-146. ISSN 0147-5479. (doi:10.1017/S014754792200031X) (KAR id:97629)


This article argues that precarity partly arises from the growth of household debt in the age of rentier capitalism. It examines the mechanisms of neoliberal finance and its debt-based economic growth model in shaping precarious work and life in Kyrgyzstan. The unequal social relationship between lenders and borrowers generates considerable economic dispossession, appropriation, precarity and harm. For debt-ridden micro-entrepreneurs, some of the pressures and consequences of debt are acutely felt within their family context, where members struggle to negotiate and ameliorate the impact. By drawing on three case studies of a small farmer, a bakery owner and a petty trader turned petty producer, the article examines how usurious interest loans plunged them and their families into distress, insecurity, fear, loss and powerlessness. The first-person accounts of these micro-entrepreneurs-cum-borrowers explain how debt was produced and experienced, and how it was inseparable from the country’s rentier capitalist transformation. The study also draws on 29 semi-structured interviews with financial institutions and 33 semi-structured interviews with borrowers conducted in Kyrgyzstan.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S014754792200031X
Uncontrolled keywords: debt, neoliberalism, the family, micro-business, post-Soviet economies
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Balihar Sanghera
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2022 20:24 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2023 22:12 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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