Making Poverty Pay

Making Poverty Pay: Digital Creditors, Gentrifying Landlords & Financial Capitalism Today

14 April 2021, 7PM

Registration is Free:



Twitter: @bigdatamargins

Featuring: Rob Aitken (Alberta) and Susanne Soederberg (Queen’s). Hosted by FIMS Rogers Chair Matt Stahl (Western). 

How is finance capitalism today “making poverty pay”?

For several years now, corporations and governments have been developing systems for accessing and capturing the details of impoverished people’s everyday lives, and for extracting profit out of their day-to-day activities.

The research of Rob Aitken into “alternative credit scoring” examines a cluster of new practices designed to make visible—and extract value from—those people whose economic activity is too marginal to count for the purpose of the formal credit scores that would enable them to buy a car or a house. Susanne Soederberg’s comparative study of the privatization of social housing in European cities reveals how public housing agencies and private landlords subject impoverished people to exploitation, eviction, and erasure, fueling gentrification in cities like Berlin and Dublin.

The work of these two Canadian researchers outlines how impoverished people in North America and Europe are increasingly subject to a “dialectic of visibility and erasure”—made visible so that they can be squeezed for interest on loans and shuffled through social housing and emergency shelters, and erased so that they don’t show up in policy debates or on the streets of gentrifying urban districts.
Making Poverty Pay is generously sponsored by the Rogers Chair in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University & Big Data at the Margins.