Ethnographic Financial Diaries

Financial diaries are a counting method. The objective is to carry out a systematic inventory of all, or at least most of the financial flows within a residential unit over a given period of time. Initiated in the nineteenth century in Europe to understand the budgets of the working classes (Le Play, 1855), the method has recently been redesigned by a group of economists and implemented in various parts of the world (Collins et al., 2009; Morduch and Schneider, 2017). The results have been fascinating, highlighting the complexity of the “financial portfolios” of the poor, who are constantly borrowing, saving, repaying, giving, receiving, and juggling a wide variety of financial instruments, even in a country like the United States (Morduch and Schneider, 2017). The method has been replicated across many countries. With few exceptions, however, none of these initiatives has disaggregated financial flows by gender.

Our financial diaries have two specificities:

  • a disaggregation of data by gender,
  • a combination with ethnography.

The choice was made to select a eight households and to combine financial data collection with “ethno-accounting” in order to understand how people themselves “count” (Cottereau and Marzok, 2012)

For more information, see Reboul et al., 2019.


The financial diaries data collection was made possible by the Research Program (2016-17) grant support of the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi. Tara Nair of Gujarat Institute for Development Research (GIDR) in Ahmedabad coordinated this project, Financialisation and its impact on Domestic Economies: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry in the context of Select Indian States.


Isabelle Guérin,
Université Paris Diderot,
Case courrier 7017,

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