The Tinker Summer Field Research Travel Grant enabled me to initiate research on the Argentine mortgage-finance industry, with particular attention to the relationship between financial logics and stratification. While I had conducted research in Latin America previously – including analyzing competing agendas surrounding an archaeological site in Bolivia, studying think-tank development during financial crises, and exploring conceptions of economic rights in Argentina – this grant allowed me to initiate a new research agenda that I plan to develop through my doctoral studies in Sociology at the University of California Berkeley. In conducting this research, my objective was to learn about relevant information sources, develop critical contacts with scholars and institutions in the field, and identify key dimensions of mortgage pricing, risk-valuation, product-category, and underwriting logics around which I could structure a comparative research agenda. While in Argentina, I conducted in-depth interviews with academic and industry experts, visited institutions involved in the Argentine mortgage-finance industry, attended real-estate, housing-finance, and economic seminars, presented at an international sociological conference, and collected documentation and local publications on the history and characteristics of mortgage lending in Argentina. As outcomes of these activities, I learned about key market dynamics, categories, and practices, and identified several instances of cross-national variation that provide interesting opportunities for comparative analysis. I also became familiar with data sources available for my research, and developed a network of contacts that I expect to engage in future stages of this study. This preliminary research promises to critically inform my doctoral research agenda and dissertation prospectus.
January 29, 2013