Debt in Dictionary

Debt is a concept that derives from a word from Latin and whose meaning refers to the obligation that a person or body has to pay, repay or satisfy something (usually money) to another. Some examples where the concept appears can be: “I am very worried since I don’t know how I am going to pay my debts”, “I have a debt of 2,000 pesos with Juan”, “The most important thing to avoid having economic problems is not to incur debts ”.

There are different types of debt according to its characteristics and the people who contract it. See Abbreviation Finder for acronyms related to debt.

In the economy of a country, various types of debts can be assumed. They are part of what is known as public debt and it is the one that the State assumes and that is recognized through titles that accrue interest. Said public debt can be external (when it is paid abroad, with foreign currency), internal (it is paid in the country itself with national currency), consolidated (perpetual, with titles that produce a fixed income) or floating (with fixed-term maturities or subject to agreement), among other classifications.

In the individual economy of citizens there are also various debts assumed, which are defined as accounts payable. They can occur when the subject requests a loan or when he acquires products in installments or with deferred payment. If a person buys a television and pays only 50%, leaving the other half pending payment until the following month, they will have contracted a debt.

In a sense totally removed from economics, the notion of debt can be linked to a moral obligation contracted with someone; it can result from a favor received from another person that generates the need in which he is helped to return said favor. There are set phrases in which this type of indebtedness is reflected: “You saved my life: I owe you”, “The truth is that I feel indebted to Daniela since I have not been able to help her”, “You helped my son and I collaborated with yours: there are no debts between us”.

Debt in anthropology

In anthropology, debt is a concept related to the relationship between citizens and the authority of the community. According to Pierre Clastres, a French anthropologist, primitive societies imposed a debt on their leader based on the tribe he led. He had to assume the obligation to protect, to make decisions and to return that trust expressed towards his person in positive results for the life of the entire community.

This relationship between the tribal chief and the rest of the community allowed community life to develop in an organized and balanced way: some blindly trusted the chief and he felt the responsibility to protect because he felt flattered by that respect and trust.

According to anthropology, this debt relationship has changed drastically in modern societies where the roles have been reversed.

With the emergence of the State, it is the people who are always in debt to their rulers and not the other way around; For this reason, certain responsibilities and obligations arise on the part of the citizenry that leads them to assume responsibilities that in a primitive community the chief would assume. The people are indebted to their sovereigns and for this reason they also fear them and this leads them not to rebel against problems, but to assume their place and seek to satisfy the desires and will of those who lead them.