University of Virginia, USA
While money sits at the intersection of culture, politics, and economics, it is sociology that has generated some of the most novel insights over the past few decades. Like the broader field of economic sociology within which it is located, the sociology of money has grown by leaps and bounds, benefiting from the theoretically eclectic and multi-method nature of the field. Remarkably though, and in this respect unlike economic sociology, this growth was not achieved by defining the sociological study of money in opposition to mainstream economics. Rather, it resulted from theoretical concerns generated within sociology itself. This is partly because economists (at least economists working within the neoclassical mainstream) have long stopped treating money as a topic worthy of exploration in its own terms. Since the demise of the German Historical School at the turn of the twentieth century, economists have embraced marginal analysis, utility functions, and general equilibrium. Money subsequently ceased capturing the attention of the mainstream: when it was analyzed, it was in the context of critiques of monetary policy. Concerned with “real” as opposed to the “financial,” economists gave money little analytical attention.
But the internal impetus driving the development of the sociology of money depended in greater part on the important theoretical status of its object of analysis in sociology ...