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Money and Society

Money and Society

A Critical Companion

by Axel T. Paul

Series: IIPPE

An introduction to the sociology of money, foregrounding how money embodies social relations

This is a comprehensive, critical introduction to the sociology of money, covering many topics, from the origins of money to its function today. Though our coins, bank notes and electronic tokens do function as means of exchange, money is in fact a social, intangible institution. This book shows that money does indeed rule the world.

Exploring the unlikely origins of money in early societies and amidst the first civilizations, the book moves onto inherent liaison with finance, including the logic of financial markets. Turning to the contemporary politics of money, monetary experiments and reform initiatives such as Bitcoin and positive money, it finally reveals the essentially monetary constitution of modern society itself.

Through criticizing the simplistic exchange paradigm of standard economics and rational choice theory, it demonstrates instead that money matters because it embodies social relations.

Axel T. Paul is Professor of Sociology at the University Basel, Switzerland. He has written extensively on the topics of economic sociology, historical sociology and the sociology of violence.

'An extremely knowledgeable account of existing theories of money'

- Jens Beckert, author of Imagined 'Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics' (Harvard University Press, 2016)

'A well-argued exploration of the history and nature of money ... Thorough and comprehensive'

- Mary Mellor, author of Money: Myths, Truths and Alternatives (Policy Press, 2019)

1. Economic Theories of Money – and Their Critiques
1.1. Barter, Exchange and Money
1.2. Objective versus Subjective Theories of Value
1.3. The Improbability of Exchange
2. Money’s Unlikely Origins
2.1. Gift-exchange and ceremonial monies
2.2. Money and (the End of) Violence
2.3. Economies of Sacrifice
2.4. Secrets of the Coin
3. Money and Finance
3.1. Time and Money
3.2. The Logic of Financial Markets
4. The Politics of Money
4.1. The Foundations and Fundamental Problems of Contemporary Money
4.2. Private Monies (or Bitcoin)
4.3. Sovereign Money
4.4. Central Bank Independence and the Inescapable Politicality of Money
5. Money and Society
5.1. Alienation and Freedom
5.2. Money and Functional Differentiation

Published by Pluto Press in Nov 2020
Paperback ISBN: 9780745341965
eBook ISBN: 9781786807120

135mm x 215mm