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Viviana A. Zelizer

Department of Sociology
120 Wallace Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544

How Do Economic Activities Affect The Meaning Of Interpersonal Relations?

How do interpersonal connections enter into the production, distribution, consumption, and transfer of economic value? My work highlights situations in which the relationship between economic activity and personal life is changing or in dispute. I explore how Americans came to treat life insurance as morally acceptable and prudent in Morals and Markets, and how children came to be seen as emotionally central just as their economic contributions to family life declined in Pricing the Priceless Child. We like to think of money and intimacy as separate domains and worry that money turns our personal life into a calculating market. In The Social Meaning of Money and The Purchase of Intimacy, I challenge those views  showing how all of us use money and more generally, economic activity to create, maintain, and renegotiate important intimate ties without necessarily damaging them. Far from corrupting intimacy, people regularly sustain their intimate ties with economic transactions.

Selected Publications: 

The Purchase of Intimacy, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.

“The Priceless Child Turns Twenty-Seven.” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 5 (Fall  2012): 449-456.  In special essay section, “Pricing the Priceless Child: a Retrospective.”

“How I Became a Relational Economic Sociologist and What Does That Mean?” Special issue on “Relational Work in Market Economies,” edited by Fred Block. Politics & Society, 40 (June 2012): 145-174.

“Caring Everywhere.” In Rhacel Parreñas and Eileen Boris and, editors, Intimate Labors: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care. Stanford University Press, 2010, pp. 267-279.