Sociological Forum

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 481–495 | Cite as

Payments and social ties

  • Viviana A. Zelizer
Article
  • 328 Downloads

Abstract

Monetary payments fall into three categories: gift, entitlement, and compensation. Each one corresponds to a significantly different set of social relations and systems of meanings. People making payments use a number of earmarking techniques to distinguish those categories of social relations and meanings from each other, impose substantial controls over the proper uses of money received within each category, and attach great importance to the distinctions involved, thus creating partly separate currencies even when the medium involved is legal tender. In the United States, bureaucratization, commercialization, and monetization significantly altered the scope, form, and content of monetary gifts, entitlements, and compensation, but did not reduce the importance of such earmarking and control. Investigation of (1) bonuses in commercial firms and (2) sexual payments illustrate the significance of these principles.

Key words

payments money social ties 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Viviana A. Zelizer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyPrinceton UniversityPrinceton

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