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The Social Meaning of Money:
Pin Money, Paychecks, Poor Relief, and Other Currencies
Viviana A. Zelizer
With a foreword by Nigel Dodd
and With a new afterword by the author

Winner of the 1996 Culture Section Book Award, American Sociological Association

Paperback | 2017 | $24.95 | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691176031
320 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
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Reviews | Table of Contents
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A dollar is a dollar—or so most of us believe. Indeed, it is part of the ideology of our time that money is a single, impersonal instrument that impoverishes social life by reducing relations to cold, hard cash. After all, it's just money. Or is it? Distinguished social scientist and prize-winning author Viviana Zelizer argues against this conventional wisdom. She shows how people have invented their own forms of currency, earmarking money in ways that baffle market theorists, incorporating funds into webs of friendship and family relations, and otherwise varying the process by which spending and saving takes place. Zelizer concentrates on domestic transactions, bestowals of gifts and charitable donations in order to show how individuals, families, governments, and businesses have all prescribed social meaning to money in ways previously unimagined.

Viviana A. Zelizer is the Lloyd Cotsen '50 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. She is the author of The Purchase of Intimacy, Pricing the Priceless Child, Economic Lives and Morals and Markets


"Interesting and informative. . . . Money is a medium of exchange. But that is only the beginning."--John Kenneth Galbraith, New York Times Book Review

"Zelizer's book is one of the richest and most thoughtful investigations of [money's] weirdness, examining in detail how money works in the real world, how we try to manage and control it, why we freely give it away in some circumstances--think, for instance, of tipping and how money shapes the relationships we have with one another."--James Surowiecki, GQ Magazine

"Zelizer has accomplished a rarity, writing a genuinely original book."--Randall Collins, Society


"Zelizer has a genius for detecting hidden order in everyday practices. Gently but firmly she uses her discoveries to overturn widespread beliefs in the power of money to corrupt, standardize, and depersonalize social ties. Best of all, she writes of these complex matters with grace, lucidity, wit, and humanity."--Charles Tilly, author of Credit and Blame

Table of Contents:

Foreword to the 2017 Edition, by Nigel Dodd ix
Acknowledgments xiii
1 The Marking of Money 1
2 The Domestic Production of Monies 36
3 Gifted Money 71
4 Poor People’s Money 119
5 With Strings Attached: The Earmarking of Charitable Cash 143
6 Contested Monies 170
7 What Does Money Mean? 199
Afterword to the 2017 Edition 217
Notes 229
Index 285

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Viviana A. Zelizer:

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Nigel Dodd:

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File created: 7/11/2017

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