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An Economy of Miracle: Rotating Credit and Savings Associations in Townships of Johannesburg

[Ekonomika chuda: rotatsionnye kreditno-sberegatel’nye assotsiatsii v taunshipakh Iokhannesburga]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150004879-6

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 28.11.2017

Accepted: 03.07.2018

About author(s)

Daria A. Zelenova | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5237-4413 | d.zelenova@gmail.com | National Research University "Higher School of Economics" (20 Myasnitskaya St., Moscow, 101000, Russia)

Vladislav V. Kruchinsky | https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5036-8194 | vladislav.kruchinsky@gmail.com | MGIMO University (76 Vernadsky prospekt, Moscow, 119454, Russia)


South Africa, mutual aid, economic informality, rotating credit and savings associations, self-organization, stokvel


The article examines the phenomenon of South African stokvels and burial societies and the transformations that these associations are currently undergoing. Drawing on the sociocultural analysis of economic action, the article investigates the topic of mutuality by looking at the contemporary development in the field of rotating savings and credit associations in South Africa. The article is based on field research conducted in Gauteng Province, South Africa, in October–November 2014, 2015, 2017. We argue that, in the mid‑2010s, conventional stokvels and burial societies are becoming the characteristic feature of the “normalized” life of the middle classes, whereas the representatives of the urban underclass are increasingly engaging in the digital Ponzi schemes as a means of day-to-day survival, but also in the pursuit of the magical “instant enrichment”.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants:
Russian Foundation for Humanities, https://doi.org/10.13039/100009094 [grant no. 13-31-01284]


Zelenova, D.A., and V.V. Kruchinsky. 2019. Ekonomika chuda: rotatsionnye kreditno-sberegatel’nye assotsiatsii v taunshipakh Iokhannesburga [An Economy of Miracle: Rotating Credit and Savings Associations in Townships of Johannesburg]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 2: 78-97. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150004879-6

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