Project Year



Latin America and the Caribbean



Project Description

The expansion of consumer credits has been one of the most wide-ranging transformations in the last 20 years in Chile. One can argue that Chile has gone through its own process of ‘financialization’ and that this has taken a very specific and domestic character. Of course, this is not the only country where consumer credits, and particularly, credit cards, have seen a significant growth. However, recent trends in the Chilean case show an important particularity: the access to consumer credits has neither been driven by banks nor by other traditional financial institutions but mainly by retailers such as supermarkets and department stores. In today’s Chile, retail credit cards are not merely used to purchase goods in the issuers’ stores, but also increasingly as revolving credits cards that are usable in an expanding network of places (including airline tickets, private hospitals, pharmacies, and, certainly, other stores). In a developing country where a large proportion of the population has not traditionally been considered by banks as potential customers, chain retailers are becoming the main access to finance.

The expansion of consumer credits in Chile has recently been the focus of many of the main discussions in social research in Chile. However, little attention has been paid by academic research to credit practices itself. A central issue that has not been studied yet is the consequences of the expansion of retail credit cards to areas of the population and city previously excluded from formal finance services. This research aims at starting to fill this gap.


José Ossandón Valdes, Tomás Ariztía, Macarena Barros, Filipe Gonzalez

About the Researcher(s)

José Gustavo Ossandón Valdes is Assistant Professor Department of Sociology and researcher of Social Science Research Centre (ICSO), Universidad Diego Portales. He received his PhD from the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London, MA (Sociology) Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Licentiate (Sociology, five year degree) Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Minor Certificate (Philosophy) Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

researcherTomás Ariztía is Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in the Sociology Department at Universidad Diego Portales. He has his PhD in Sociology, London School of Economics, MSc Sociology (Hons), Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, BSc Sociology (Hons), Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.

Macarena Barros received her BA in Anthropology with a major in Social Anthropology (five year degree) from the University of Chile in 2009. In 2005, she completed a Diploma Course (Contability for Administration of Proyects) at Didacta Training Institute. In 2004 she completed a Diploma Course (Traditional Culture) at the Institute of Aesthetics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
researcherFelipe Gonzalez received his 2008 Licenciate (Sociology, five year degree), Universidad Alberto Hurtado.

Synopsis of Research Results

1. Link to José Ossandón, Tomás Ariztía, Macarena Barros, and Camila Peralta's "The Financial Ecologies and Circuits of Commerce of Retail Credit Cards in Santiago de Chile".

2. Link to José Ossandón's working paper “My Story Has No Strings Attached”:  Credit Cards, Market Devices, and a Stone Guest.

3. Link to their blog post: The Economy of the Quota: The Financial Ecologies and Commercial Circuits of Retail Credit Cards in Santiago, Chile.


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