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Economic LivesHow Culture Shapes the Economy$
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Viviana A. Zelizer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780691139364

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691139364.001.0001

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The Social Meaning of Money

The Social Meaning of Money

“Special Monies”

(p.93) 5 The Social Meaning of Money
Economic Lives

Viviana A. Zelizer

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that the utilitarian approach to money is a theoretical and empirical straitjacket. Money belongs to the market, but not exclusively so. And while money is indeed an objective means of rational calculation, it is not only that. It first considers the traditional interpretation of money, that is, as “market money,” and then proposes an alternative model of “special monies” that incorporates the social and symbolic significance of money. Next, it presents a historical case study of domestic money as one example of a special money. It argues that domestic money—which includes a wife's money, husband's money, and children's money—is a special category of money in the modern world. The discussion focuses on the changing meaning of married women's money between the 1870s and 1930s, showing how this money, whether given by the husband or earned in the household or in the labor market, was marked as a different form of currency from an ordinary dollar.

Keywords:   market money, special monies, domestic money, married women, currency

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