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Money's Place in Society

Simon Smelt
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 31, No. 2 (Jun., 1980), pp. 204-223
DOI: 10.2307/589688
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/589688
Page Count: 20
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Money's Place in Society
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Abstract

Problems with existing approaches to money in sociology are reviewed and an alternative approach suggested. Money is found to originate in well socialized objects enjoying particular concentrations of magical spirit. It thus enables control and grasp of physical and social events. Money's super-objective impact on the individual and a model of its dual nature - as essence possessed of intrinsic value and as symbol of that value - is advanced. The two sides of its nature are in tension but linked through number. It is suggested that money overleaps the problems of social interaction to integrate the individual with the economic infrastructure. This substantiates Marx's lack of concern with the symbolic realm but the monetary structure differs from both infrastructure and superstructure. It assures the predominance of the former whilst introducing its own character - notably a bias towards consumption. The different possible relations to money are examined in terms of the model proposed.

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