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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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Risky Exchanges

Risky Exchanges

(p.288) 14 Risky Exchanges
Economic Lives

Viviana A. Zelizer

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers a class of transactions referred to as “risky exchanges,” which involve significant possibility that one party or another to the exchange will damage the other party through error, incompetence, or malfeasance. Drawing on the author's work concerning baby markets and on a rapidly expanding literature concerning the economics of care, it argues that in order to explain how commercial markets for “risky exchanges” actually work we need to go beyond standard approaches to commodification. Those approaches often rely on simplistic equations of market exchange with moral degradation. Instead, we need to identify and explain multiple ways of organizing commercial exchanges. Some market arrangements do indeed have pernicious consequences, but others offer benefits to all participants.

Keywords:   risky exchanges, transactions, baby markets, commodification, commercial markets

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