From microfinance to inclusive financial markets: The challenge of social regulation

Susan Johnson

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Policy towards microfinance has undergone a shift away from building financial institutions focused on serving poor people to an “inclusive” agenda for financial sector development, operationalized by some donors in an approach entitled “Making Markets Work for the Poor”. This approach is located in New Institutional Economics and the enabling environment focus of the post-Washington Consensus. Despite the way in which this inclusion agenda echoes social exclusion discourse, it engages with a residualist rather than relational understanding of poverty. This leads to an analytical disjuncture between its discourse and analysis, overlooking the root causes of poverty and exclusion in relational processes. Arising from this is the failure to recognize that developing institutions and “enabling” environments require an understanding of social institutions and their influence as social regulatory structures. The author illustrates how analysis can proceed to address this disjuncture using the example of gender relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S35-S52
Number of pages18
JournalOxford Development Studies
Issue numberS1
Early online date26 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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