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Debtor NationThe History of America in Red Ink$
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Louis Hyman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691140681

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691140681.001.0001

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Legitimating the Credit Infrastructure

Legitimating the Credit Infrastructure

Race, Gender, and Credit Access

(p.173) Chapter Six Legitimating the Credit Infrastructure
Debtor Nation

Louis Hyman

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses credit access. By the 1960s, credit access was deemed to be unequivocally beneficial. Credit use, far from marking one as immoral or unthrifty as it might have in the 1910s, denoted high social status and personal responsibility. In the 1960s, those without credit agitated for more “fair” or “equal” access. By the end of the decade, as access to credit became a social marker of independence and prosperity, various credit activists for women and people of color demanded access to credit. As such, congress passed laws to guarantee impartial access to credit. At the same time, these laws legitimated practices that would have seemed usurious two generations earlier. By the 1970s, consumer credit—legitimated as fair through federal policy—grew to an unprecedented volume and creditors extended it to all Americans with uncertain consequences for the country's economic future.

Keywords:   credit access, credit use, social status, credit activists, consumer credit

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