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What is really owed: structural injustice, responsibility and sovereign debt

Wiedenbrüg, Anahí Elisabeth (2018) What is really owed: structural injustice, responsibility and sovereign debt. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.ep6dj567bo8f


Two central ideas characterise the dominant discourse surrounding sovereign debt and sovereign debt crises: the portrayal of the crisis as the only problem and the singling out of the debtor state as the main culprit. This thesis challenges both of these ideas and, in doing so, contributes to the nascent normative literature on finance and justice, as well as to the more established debates on global justice and structural injustice. First, the most serious problem is not the crisis itself, but a highly asymmetrical and unjust Sovereign Debt and Credit Regime (SD&CR), which rests on and further entrenches positions of advantage and disadvantage along lines of class and citizenship. Occupiers of positions of disadvantage are vulnerable to structural domination and exploitation when debt is accrued. Three heuristic categories are introduced here to better understand how the injustices characterising the SD&CR are reproduced, namely the ‘structural processes proper’, the ‘structural-relational’, and the ‘structural-systemic’ dimensions. Second, an integrated responsibility model is defended, which challenges the unilateral attribution of responsibility to the debtor state and allows for more expansive and differentiated responsibility attribution. According to this model, creditors can be held responsible on three grounds: moral responsibility, benefit, and role responsibility. Disadvantaged debtor governments, in turn, are responsible to resist their domination and exploitation. This responsibility may give rise to (a) the duty to refuse to renounce their own agency by endorsing outcome responsibility, and (b) to the duty to engage in acts of state civil disobedience. Finally, citizens cease to have debt servicing obligations if the state budget is systematically used in the interest of only a fraction of the state’s citizenry and whenever the acquisition of further debt threatens the state’s ability to act in the public interest.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Anahí Elisabeth Wiedenbrüg
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Ypi, Lea

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