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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 Purchase of Intimacy

The Purchase of Intimacy

(p.181) 10 The Purchase of Intimacy
Economic Lives

Viviana A. Zelizer

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the question: Under what conditions, how, and with what consequences do people combine monetary transfers with intimate relationships? It suggests that intimate relations involving monetary transfers include a variety of social relations, each marked by a distinctive pattern of payment. First, people routinely differentiate meaningful social relations; among other markers, they use different payment systems to create, define, affirm, challenge, or overturn such distinctions. Second, such distinctions apply to intimate social relations, including those having a sexual component. People regularly differentiate forms of monetary transfers in correspondence with their definitions of the sort of relationship that obtains between the parties. They adopt symbols, rituals, practices, and physically distinguishable forms of money to mark distinct social relations. The chapter shows that when payments within intimate relations become matters of legal dispute, lawyers and judges apply their own differentiating categories, which also turn out to be relational. It explores how this application of categories leads to a problem of translation, as participants in disputes go from categories of everyday life to legal classifications and back.

Keywords:   intimate relationships, intimacy, monetary transfers, payment

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