Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Week 5.2 - Money and Social Ties

Does money corrupt social relations? Does the use of social relations in financial realms cause inefficiency or favoritism of failure? How does Zelizer respond to claims that money and social relations don't mix well together? How do people intertwine money and social relations?


  1. Money can corrupt social relations, however, I think it is very cynical to think that money always corrupts social relations. While there certainly are cases where money and the market have tainted marriages and partnerships, there seemed to be other issues within the hearts of the individuals outside of the money. For example, the anecdote of the wife caring for the sick husband that Zelizer shared: the money being involved in the caretaking of the husband was not what soiled the relationship, instead it was the false promise and manipulation committed by the husband by lying about his will. If anything, money and market goods and exchanges only exaggerates what is already in people's hearts.

    Social relations in financial realms seem to typically cause inefficiency unless there is thorough communication and understanding with one another. For example, my closest friend is a successul makeup artist and hair stylist in Columbus. We both understand that her artistry is how she makes her living, and despite our close relationship with one another, it is still understood that I will pay for anything that she does for me, as would any other client. Without clear communication, the financial realm and social relations can act as "hostile worlds" as Zelizer describes, but there is no reason that has to be the case.

    Zelizer responds to the many negative attitudes and claims towards money and social relations not mixing well together by proving towards the end of the work that there are many instances where couples, families, and friends do not even think twice about exchanging money or material goods within their relationships. The biggest examples are an engagement ring, or a parent helping a child pay their college tuition. These exchanges are entirely different from the cold market exchanges that we see in the financial world, they are often driven by love and compassion for another person, which is why this seems to be an outlier. In the United States, a country driven heavily by capitalism and the value of material goods, it seems almost unavoidable that there is going to be money involved in social relations, whether it be thoughtful gifts, fiscal help when in a low place, or lending money to a friend for a cup of coffee. In most instances, these small or large exchanges do not make or break the relationship, it depends upon the spirit of the relationship from the start.

  2. In a way, it does seem that money has the potential to corrupt relationships. To give an example of this, Zelizer talks in his article of a partner to a woman who was killed in the 9/11/ attacks, and was awarded a sum of money, as well as the woman's brother, who too was awarded a sum of money. The article mentions a conflict over who should get what money in a court, where it was decided that the partner should of received more money. I would imagine that the relationship between the woman's partner and her brother was rather low when they were fighting over money, and it might be said that money may of sabotaged their relationship.
    The article also talks about instances when money given in some relationship can be of a positive impact and not corrupt the relationship. Even in my own relationships I notice this, where gifts, various goods, and money are exchanged between friends and families, with no one feeling that hey are entitled to more or feeling that someone is given some unfair advantage. As Zelizer noted at the end of his article after all "...But in fact people constantly
    integrate money into their intimate social lives without
    damaging them. Money honestly gained and well spent
    sustains families, friendships, and faiths."
    In this quote, he likely acknowledges that even as money has the potential to ruin a relationship, it does not mean money will ruin a relationship.


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