The romantic potential of money: when credit becomes a gift

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Money and monetary loans are rarely considered to be particularly romantic. Yet, despite the negative connotations surrounding moneylending, monetary loans do sometimes play the role of romanticized gifts. In this chapter, we show how microloans, small monetary loans to disadvantaged borrowers, obtain a uniquely romantic character and come to be framed as perfect gifts for the poor. Inspired by Simmel’s work (1990), we argue that the romanticization of microloans is tied to the romantic quality of money, credit, and capital. Microloans have indeed been popularized as romanticized gifts of microcredit, wherein credit is construed as opportunity-creating capital. We illustrate and elaborate on these arguments with insights obtained through prolonged investigation of online microlending platforms which enable lenders around the world to provide credit to poor entrepreneurs.

In addition to outlining the romantic portrayals of microlending, we reflect on the role money and credit “romance” play in the financialization of development aid and humanitarianism and the spirit of capitalism more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGifts, Romance, and Consumer Culture
EditorsYuko Minowa, Russell W. Belk
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781315144658, 9781351385053 (PDF)
ISBN (Print)9781138500709
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Interpretive Marketing Research


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