Making Women Pay

Microfinance in Urban India

Making Women Pay

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: 11 illustrations Published: December 2021

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian Studies > South Asia, Sociology > Labor

In Making Women Pay, Smitha Radhakrishnan explores India's microfinance industry, which in the last two decades has come to saturate the everyday lives of women in the name of state-led efforts to promote financial inclusion and women's empowerment. Despite this favorable language, she argues, microfinance in India does not provide a market-oriented development intervention, even though it may appear to help women borrowers. Rather, this commercial industry seeks to extract the maximum value from its customers through exploitative relationships that benefit especially class-privileged men. Through ethnography, interviews, and historical analysis, Radhakrishnan demonstrates how the unpaid and underpaid labor of marginalized women borrowers ensures both profitability and symbolic legitimacy for microfinance institutions, their employees, and their leaders. In doing so, she centralizes gender in the study of microfinance, reveals why most microfinance programs target women, and explores the exploitative implications of this targeting.


“Smitha Radhakrishnan's compelling and important study of women in the world of microfinance is one of the best books I've read in several years. No other book on the market features this kind of data, access, or methods of triangulation. With its clear writing, rich stories and nuance, Making Women Pay will challenge readers to think more critically about how microfinance is deeply gendered. Engaging, moving, and powerful.” — Kimberly Kay Hoang, author of Dealing in Desire: Asian Ascendancy, Western Decline, and the Hidden Currencies of Global Sex Work

“While the scholarship on microfinance has become increasingly nuanced over the past three decades, we still lack critical information about the very people who put microfinance into practice—namely the loan officers, educators, and field workers who directly interface with clients and act as brokers between clients and administration, as well as upper-level administrators. Smitha Radhakrishnan fills this critical gap, offering readers a new analysis of microfinance that takes microfinance workers at all levels seriously as social agents. Reading this book is a breath of fresh air and a true delight.” — Erin Beck, author of How Development Projects Persist: Everyday Negotiations with Guatemalan NGOs


Availability: Not in Stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Smitha Radhakrishnan is Professor of Sociology and LuElla LaMer Slaner Professor of Women's Studies at Wellesley College and author of Appropriately Indian: Gender and Culture in a New Transnational Class, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Table of Contents Forthcoming
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1487-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1393-8