Informal Financial Practices and Social Networks: Transaction Genealogies

Analyzing the interdependence of mobile money transfers and social networks
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This paper investigates the nature of informal interpersonal financial transactions. It sets out to examine the scale, scope, nature, social dynamics, and meaning of transfers within social networks. The research, which employed the use of qualitative research methods, did not consider financial transactions exclusively, but recognized that they were likely to be part of a range of types of transfer and support that were given and received within social networks and relationships. The research also concentrated on understanding the role of mobile money transfers (MMT) in making transfers within social networks, how they have changed social relationships, and how financial services are used. The paper discusses the following in detail:

  • Background on the aspect of financial transactions in Kenya's informal sector;
  • Brief overview of some anthropological perspectives on these transactions;
  • Overview of relationships (immediate family, extended family, friends etc.), types of exchanges (money, advice, food, labor etc.), nature of support (gifts, borrowing, charity), and the contexts in which transactions occur (business, education, health etc.);
  • Perceptions people had of the institutionalized formal and informal financial services that they used.

About this Publication

By Johnson, S.