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
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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