About the project

“Mortgage, Rationality and Visions of the Future” project

The “Mortgage, Rationality and Visions of the Future” project, funded by the Hungarian Research Funds, started in September 2013. It looks at the development of the postsocialist Hungarian mortgage market from its birth in the 1990s till its crisis in 2009-2010. The project is carried out by Léna Pellandini-Simányi (principal investigator, ELTE, Budapest), Zsuzsanna Vargha (University of University of Leicester, UK and MIT, US) and Ferenc Hammer (ELTE, Budapest).

The research draws on actor-network theory, cultural economy and economic sociology approaches and looks at borrowers, banks, regulators and policy-makers. It uses document analysis (of parliamentary debates, regulatory documents, advertisements and the financial press), qualitative interviews (50 borrower and 40 expert interviews) and a representative survey with borrowers. The project involved a  workshop titled Debt trails: Mapping relations of debt and credit from everyday actors to global credit markets”, co-sponsored by the Journal of Cultural Economy.

The project looks at three main areas:

1. Financialization of everyday life, the formation of financial subjectivities

This area asks how everyday financial subjectivities are formed, how different discourses and “agencements” (banks’ and mortgage brokers’ marketing devices, financial literacy programs of the government, etc.) shape the experience of taking out and living with mortgages. As part of these questions, we inquire into to what extent the “financialization of everyday life” can be observed in Hungary, and into the ways in which class divisions are reshaped by mortgage borrowing.

Papers related to this strand:

Pellandini-Simányi, L., Hammer, F. and Vargha Zs. (2015): The Financialization of Everyday Life or the Domestication of Finance? How Mortgages Engage With Borrowers’ Temporal Horizons, Relationships, and Rationality in Hungary. Cultural Studies, 29 (5-6), 1-26, 733-759

Pellandini-Simányi L., Hammer, F. és Vargha Zs. (2015) Domesticating Finance: Patterns of Inequality in Living with Home Mortgages in Hungary.  27th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, Domesticizing Financial Economies, Part 2 session, 2-4 July, 2015, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK

Pellandini-Simányi, L. (2015) The Consumer Who Wasn’t There: How Home Mortgages Configured Higher Energy Consumption. Beyond Practices: Sustainable Consumption and Socio-technical Systems Workshop. University of Manchester, Manchaster, UK, 25-26th June, 2015

Pellandini-Simányi, L. and Hammer, F. (2014): Performing irrational consumers? Consuming and regulating mortgage in postsocialist Hungary, ESA Consumption Research Network midterm conference, 3-5 September, Porto, Portugal

Zsuzsanna Saffer: A lakáshitelezés médiareprezentációjának elemzése – A diszkurzív hatások szerepe a lakáshitel normalizálódási folyamatában (An analysis of the media represnatation of mortgages – The role of discoursive effects in the normalization of mortgages; Master’s thesis, ELTE-BTK)

2. Marketization and the dynamics of markets

The Hungarian mortgage market was created through a series of (intitally failed, later successful) government interventions in the late 1990-early 2000s, followed by a period of unregulated foreign-currency denominated mortgage boom between 2003 and 2009. This research strand looks at the reasons why market-making efforts failed originally and seeks to trace the dynamics that lead to the boom later on. It maps these dynamics as an interaction between banks, policy-makers, regulators and borrowers.

Papers related to this strand:

Pellandini-Simányi, L., Vargha, Zs. and Hammer, F. (2015) Performation struggles in the making of the Hungarian forex mortgage market. American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Economic Sociology Roundtable Session, 22-25 August. 2015, Chicago, USA. (An earlier version of this paper was presented in Economic Geography Discussion Forum, University of Zurich, 1 November, 2014)

Pellandini-Simányi, L. and Vargha Zs. (2014): Market drift or side-markets? Organizing the mortgage market in post-socialist Hungary from birth to crisis, SCORE International Conference on Organizing Markets, 16-17 October, Stockholm, Sweden.

3. Financial predictions and the Westernization narrative

This research area focuses on how borrowers, banks, policy-makers and regulators formed expecations about the future development of the mortgage market and how these predictions transformed the market itself.  One key focus of this strand is the ways in which geographical imaginaries of East and West shaped expecations.

Papers related to this strand:

Pellandini-Simányi, L., Hammer, F. and Vargha, Zs. (2014) Everyday economic projections and the foreign currency mortgage crisis in Hungary. Conference on „Consumption and Economic Crises: Post-Socialist Experiences“ organized by the National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, 2014.10.9-10.

Pellandini-Simányi, L., Vargha, Zs. and Hammer, F. (2015) The Cartography of Forex Lending: Westernizing the Future in the Hungarian Mortgage Market. 27th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, Uncertain Futures in Economic Decision Making 2-4 July, 2015, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK

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