Circuits of Commerce

Viviana A. Zelizer

in Self, Social Structure, and Beliefs

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780520241367
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937857 | DOI:
Circuits of Commerce

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This chapter expands on a phenomenon noted in Smelser's analysis of social change in the industrial revolution: the development of differentiated ties that cross household boundaries and involve household members in distinct forms of exchange. It focuses on the “circuits of commerce”. The circuits of commerce have four elements: boundaries around transactions, ties among participants, a distinctive set of transfers or claims occurring within the ties, and distinctive transfer media. Within the broad concept of circuits of commerce, the chapter identifies three types of differentiated tie: local currencies, corporate circuits, and intimate circuits. In each of these circuits are examples of the personal mixed with regularized media and transfers and ties that differ in intensity, scope, and durability. The analysis presented in this chapter shows how individuals bridge the unbridgeable gap between social solidarity and monetized transactions as well as the complex interplay of monetary transfers and social ties. The chapter also rejects the incompatability which is believed to exist between the world of intimacy and impersonal rationality. It also rejects the reductionist view that this presumed separation is simply a special case of some more general principle, whether rationality, culture or politics. Such approaches are believed to fail to deal with the degree of interconnection between various ties.

Keywords: social change; industrial revolution; commerce; social solidarity; monetized transactions; monetary transfers; social transfers

Chapter.  9584 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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