Document Type




Publication Date



SAGE Publications

Source Publication

Politics & Society

Source ISSN



How can finance be durably democratized? In the centers of financial power in both the United States and the United Kingdom, proposals now circulate to give workers and the public more say over how flows of credit are allocated. This article examines five democratization proposals: credit union franchises, public investment banks, sovereign wealth funds, inclusive ownership funds, and bank nationalization. It considers how these plans might activate worker and public engagement in decision making about finance by focusing on three modes of public participation: representative democracy, direct democracy, and deliberative minipublics. It then considers the degree to which democratization plans might be resilient to de-democratization threats from business. It argues that of the five, bank nationalization goes furthest in guarding against de-democratization threats but is still pocked with pitfalls if it relies solely on representative democracy. It argues that two criteria appear necessary for democratically durable alternatives: the active direct participation of workers and citizens and the weakening of businesses’ capacity for democratic retrenchment.

finance, democracy, labor, credit, business power


Accepted version. Politics & Society, Vol. 47, No. 4 (December 2019): 611-633. DOI. © 2019 SAGE Publications. Used with permission.

mccarthy_13647acc.docx (63 kB)
ADA Accessible Version