Alternative economic spaces

Financial exclusion involves individuals, typically from deprived communities, struggling to access and use financial services because of issues related to terms and conditions, access, marketing, price and self-exclusion (Leyshon, 2009). Following the 2007-08 financial crisis, financial exclusion was further exacerbated in deprived areas as banks became more risk-averse, creating ‘new geographies of financial exclusion’ (Aalbers, 2009; Appleyard, 2013). ‘Sub-prime’ lenders, such as payday lenders offering loans at high rates of interest, have generally filled this vacated market (Rowlingson et al., 2018). However, also operating in these markets are microcredit lenders – a form of responsible lender who offer credit at fair interest rates to financially-excluded individuals using relationship banking practices (McHugh et al., 2019).

Through the lens of a diverse economy framework (Gibson-Graham 2006), micro lenders can be identified as adopting alternative modes of economic conduct, since their market transactions are typically based on fairness and solidarity (McHugh et al., 2019). Moreover, a body of research is emerging indicating that micro lenders have the potential to impact on the social determinants of health (McHugh et al., 2017; FinWell, 2018) by offering financially excluded individuals the possibility to engage in ‘alternative economic spaces’.

However, the nature of alterity is rarely stable as it is susceptible to legislative and regulatory changes and is affected by the context in which institutions operate. Contextual changes may impact on organisational practices, ways of working as well as shaping the funding and support landscape in which organisations operate (Mazzei, 2016). The extent to which borrowers’ wellbeing may be affected remains to be tested.

Drawing on diverse economies scholarship, the aim of this PhD is to examine, in-depth, the alterity of microcredit – business and personal – lending in Scotland.  Specifically, the multiple ways in which context - geographical, cultural and political - shapes, constrains and enables this form of financial practice will be explored. The PhD will make use of qualitative methods.

Director of Studies: Dr Neil McHugh
Supervisor: Dr Micaela Mazzei

Reference: Yunus-2019-001

Closing date for applications is Friday 7th June.

For further information about stipend/fees and to apply for the studentship please visit: