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Your Data or Your Life: On demonetisation, cashlessness and digital panopticon in India

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/09/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Sociologia del Lavoro
Issue number2
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)44-59
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


Over the past few years, there has been a growing discussion about cashlessness. In several countries, economists, policy markers and financial institutions have advocated for a transition towards digital transactions, arguing that cashlessness can become an instrument of governance pivotal to the achievement of a more transparent and inclusive society. Conversely, cash has been described as a symbol of deviance, a symptom of illegal activities such as tax evasion and corruption. This paper focuses on the transition towards cashless transactions in India. Drawing on Noemi Klein's definition of the shock economy, it argues that demonetisation in India can be considered as a shock therapy meant to facilitate the pursuit of a pro-corporate agenda. In a cash-based economy like India, demonetisation created a state of shock that forced large sectors of the population to adapt to digital transaction, in a process that undermined informal activities and used fear as a levy to push forward an agenda that largely benefited big credit card companies, the IT sector and fintech.