The money form often appears to have single dimension. We may have little problem defining it as a unit of account; consolidating through price the value of other things. This is an awesome power! But is this singular view of the relationship between money and value shared by everyone in our own and other cultures? The historical and ethnographic perspectives offered by many social scientists document that it is not ~ even in modern political economy, where capitalism remains the dominant form of social reproduction. This semester, students will be introduced to concepts, theories and methods that inform these perspectives. Our goal is to two-fold. First, we will explore how money has more socio-cultural plasticity than we might anticipate as it is used to create and shape relations between people, society, and economy. Second, students will use the concepts and methods to examine money’s varied roles and, perhaps, some of its separation from value in your own life. This will take place through the conduct of a semester-long, auto-ethnographic and bibliographic research project that culminates in a final paper and presentation.

This project will require work (participant observation, fieldnotes, maybe interviews, and library research) outside of class preparation. So, as you decide whether to take this class, consider if you have the time and willingness to devote to the work this semester.