Bruce Carruthers

Northwestern University

Bruce G. Carruthers, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University, will work on a book charting the historical development of credit in the Anglo-American world, from the early 18th century to the middle of the 20th century. The problem of who to trust with money has been resolved in different ways over the centuries. In the past, creditors would judge the personal character of the debtor. Today, they rely on the systematic use of financial data. This has resulted in a narrower definition of creditworthiness, but a wider and more anonymous distribution of credit. Nonetheless, in a credit system that is increasingly formalized and rule-bound, Carruthers argues that personal discretion continues to play an under-acknowledged role.


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