Balancing the social and financial sides of the coin: An action research on setting up financial self-help groups in the Netherlands

Julie-Marthe Lehmann

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD Thesis - Research VU Amsterdam, graduation VU Amsterdam

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Abstract

This dissertation explores the value of financial self-help groups by looking at both sides of the coin the financial side of the coin – how people may save and lend money to each other – and the social side of the coin – how people participate in a financial self-help group to help themselves and other group members. The focus of this action research was on one specific kind of financial self-help group called CAF groups (Communidades Autofinanciada: in English, self-financed communities). In a CAF group, up to 15 people save and lend money to each other on a monthly basis. All financial transactions are recorded, and the cash balances from every meeting are deposited in a secured box. This dissertation investigates the value of CAF groups for their individual participants as well as for the broader context of Dutch society and its financial landscape. Between 2013 and 2017, five CAF groups were created in Amsterdam and The Hague. Using ethnographic observations and participatory tools, each group was guided, observed, analysed, and compared to the others. Development economist Amartya Sen’s (1999) capability approach was applied to investigate the impact of CAF-group participation on the individual members’ agency and well-being, focussing on their social networks, financial household management, and entrepreneurial attitudes. Based on the empirical outcomes, this economic theory was extended using sociologist Anthony Giddens’s (1984) structuration theory. This dissertation thus shows how participation in a financial self-help group not only has an impact on individual members but also has significance for broader societal structures such as the participation society and the financial landscape.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Ghorashi, H, Supervisor
  • Smets, PGSM, Co-supervisor
  • Prins, B., Co-supervisor
Award date10 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Savings groups, financial self-help groups, action research, capability approach, structuration theory, participation society

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