Viviana A. Zelizer
The Lloyd Cotsen '50 Professor of Sociology
Viviana A. Zelizer is Lloyd Cotsen '50 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. She specializes in historical analysis, economic processes, interpersonal relations, and childhood. She has published books on the development of life insurance, the changing economic and sentimental value of children, and on the place of money in social life. Her most recent book, The Purchase of Intimacy (Princeton University Press, 2005) deals with the interplay of economic activity and personal ties, especially intimate ties, both in everyday practice and in the law. It includes the formation of couples, the provision of personal care, and social relations within households.
The Purchase of Intimacy by Viviana Zelizer
(Princeton University Press, 2005)
In their personal lives, people consider it essential to separate economics and intimacy. We have, for example, a long-standing taboo against workplace romance, while we see marital love as different from prostitution because it is not a fundamentally financial exchange. In The Purchase of Intimacy, Viviana Zelizer mounts a provocative challenge to this view. Getting to the heart of one of life's greatest taboos, she shows how we all use economic activity to create, maintain, and renegotiate important ties--especially intimate ties--to other people.
In everyday life, we invest intense effort and worry to strike the right balance. For example, when a wife's income equals or surpasses her husband's, how much more time should the man devote to household chores or child care? Sometimes legal disputes arise. Should the surviving partner in a same-sex relationship have received compensation for a partner's death as a result of 9/11?
Through a host of compelling examples, Zelizer shows us why price is central to three key areas of intimacy: sexually tinged relations; health care by family members, friends, and professionals; and household economics. She draws both on research and materials ranging from reports on compensation to survivors of 9/11 victims to financial management Web sites and advice books for same-sex couples.
From the bedroom to the courtroom, The Purchase of Intimacy opens a fascinating new window on the inner workings of the economic processes that pervade our private lives.
"Money, Power, and Sex." 18 Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 303 (2006).