Council on Anthropology and Education
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In the post 2008 Global Financial Crisis context, the term "financialization" is often used to identify the seeping of finance capital into individuals' everyday lives. Overwhelmingly, studies focus on how the rapid proliferation of investment tools such as stocks, bonds, and real estate shapes orientations towards futurity, affecting patterns of savings and borrowing (Langley 2008) and shaping flexible labor. Yet, theories of human capital, starting with Theodore Schultz (1961) and Gary Becker (1962) have always centered on the notion of "investment." As I will discuss, adolescents as "investees," navigate their daily lives by weaving in and out of gifting and market economies that become fused through their parents' anxious love and living in a post-crisis context. By analyzing how affluent international school attendees in South Korea come to understand themselves as their parents' investments within an inherently precarious and volatile global financial market, this paper argues that theories of human capital cultivation should also heed attention to how adolescents come to understand themselves as appreciable assets. As "investees," adolescents are assimilated into their parents' and educators' "horizons of expectations" (Kosselleck 1985) to reproduce their family's upper-classed status while simultaneously preparing for their own obsolescence as laborers in dynamically shifting economies. This paper will explore how investments in adolescents' elite educational branding, in addition to their physical and emotional health are designed to produce resilient subjects who are flexible and immutably fit to withstand market turbulence (Cooper 2010).