Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy

Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy

by Viviana A. Zelizer
     
 

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Over the past three decades, economic sociology has been revealing how culture shapes economic life even while economic facts affect social relationships. This work has transformed the field into a flourishing and increasingly influential discipline. No one has played a greater role in this development than Viviana Zelizer, one of the world's leading sociologists.

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Overview

Over the past three decades, economic sociology has been revealing how culture shapes economic life even while economic facts affect social relationships. This work has transformed the field into a flourishing and increasingly influential discipline. No one has played a greater role in this development than Viviana Zelizer, one of the world's leading sociologists. Economic Lives synthesizes and extends her most important work to date, demonstrating the full breadth and range of her field-defining contributions in a single volume for the first time.

Economic Lives shows how shared cultural understandings and interpersonal relations shape everyday economic activities. Far from being simple responses to narrow individual incentives and preferences, economic actions emerge, persist, and are transformed by our relations to others. Distilling three decades of research, the book offers a distinctive vision of economic activity that brings out the hidden meanings and social actions behind the supposedly impersonal worlds of production, consumption, and asset transfer. Economic Lives ranges broadly from life insurance marketing, corporate ethics, household budgets, and migrant remittances to caring labor, workplace romance, baby markets, and payments for sex. These examples demonstrate an alternative approach to explaining how we manage economic activity--as well as a different way of understanding why conventional economic theory has proved incapable of predicting or responding to recent economic crises.

Providing an important perspective on the recent past and possible futures of a growing field, Economic Lives promises to be widely read and discussed.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreword
As a compilation of three decades of Zelizer's contributions to economic sociology, the book will help economists and sociologists see how the discipline has evolved over the years. For other readers, the book is a fascinating introduction to the subject.
— Karunesh Tuli
Times Higher Education
[T]his collection is an excellent introduction to, and summary of, [Zelizer's] impressive oeuvre, and makes a strong case for economists studying transactions within their cultural context.
— Natalie Gold
Sociological Forum
Economic Lives reveals . . . Zelizer's brilliant craftsmanship in knitting together innovative narratives about the ceaseless interplay between money and social relations, means and meaning, objective and subjective, material and symbolic. . . . [H]er work still reigns supreme in the description and analysis of the careful economic strategies individuals anxiously deploy to find meaning and a moral ground.
— Marion Fourcade
Times Higher Education - Natalie Gold
[T]his collection is an excellent introduction to, and summary of, [Zelizer's] impressive oeuvre, and makes a strong case for economists studying transactions within their cultural context.
Foreword Reviews - Karunesh Tuli
As a compilation of three decades of Zelizer's contributions to economic sociology, the book will help economists and sociologists see how the discipline has evolved over the years. For other readers, the book is a fascinating introduction to the subject.
Sociological Forum - Marion Fourcade
Economic Lives reveals . . . Zelizer's brilliant craftsmanship in knitting together innovative narratives about the ceaseless interplay between money and social relations, means and meaning, objective and subjective, material and symbolic. . . . [H]er work still reigns supreme in the description and analysis of the careful economic strategies individuals anxiously deploy to find meaning and a moral ground.
From the Publisher

"[T]his collection is an excellent introduction to, and summary of, [Zelizer's] impressive oeuvre, and makes a strong case for economists studying transactions within their cultural context."--Natalie Gold, Times Higher Education

"As a compilation of three decades of Zelizer's contributions to economic sociology, the book will help economists and sociologists see how the discipline has evolved over the years. For other readers, the book is a fascinating introduction to the subject."--Karunesh Tuli, Foreword Reviews

"Immensely interesting and thought-provoking--especially for academic collections and for fans of the Freakanomics series looking for meatier fare."--Library Journal

"Economic Lives reveals . . . Zelizer's brilliant craftsmanship in knitting together innovative narratives about the ceaseless interplay between money and social relations, means and meaning, objective and subjective, material and symbolic. . . . [H]er work still reigns supreme in the description and analysis of the careful economic strategies individuals anxiously deploy to find meaning and a moral ground."--Marion Fourcade, Sociological Forum

Library Journal
Zelizer (sociology, Princeton Univ.) is one of the earliest and most prolific contributors to the field of economic sociology, which has only recently come into the spotlight as traditional economic theory has failed to predict or explain repeated crises and downturns. This is a collection of Zelizer's previously published essays in five thematic areas: valuation of human lives, the social meaning of money, intimate economies, the economy of care, and circuits of commerce. The sixth section includes general essays on the relationship of social life and economic activity. Each section begins with a brief introduction that provides background, underlying theory, and summaries of the essays included. Other recent titles in the field include Alex Preda's Information, Knowledge, and Economic Life: An Introduction to the Sociology of Markets and Richard E. Wagner's Mind, Society, and Human Action: Time and Knowledge in a Theory of Social Economy. VERDICT Immensely interesting and thought-provoking—essential for academic collections and for fans of the Freakonomics series looking for meatier fare.—Sara Holder, McGill Univ., Montreal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400836253
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
09/27/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
1,146,763
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Viviana A. Zelizer is the Lloyd Cotsen ‘50 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. She is the author of The Purchase of Intimacy, The Social Meaning of Money, Pricing the Priceless Child (all Princeton), and Morals and Markets: The Development of Life Insurance in the United States.

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