January 7, 2011

· Economics · Sociology

Here’s a very nice Op-Ed from Viviana Zelizer on what (if I remember rightly) Michel Callon once described as the central question that animates her thinking in economic sociology: can one give money as a gift?

The key to the problem, early 20th-century gift-givers found, was to camouflage money inside a traditional gift. This took effort and it had nothing to do with efficiency, but it enabled people to elevate the gift of cash. … Nostalgic traditionalists and hard-nosed realists both get it wrong. For over a century, Americans have been demonstrating remarkable ingenuity in turning money into meaningful personal gifts. Let’s keep it up. Next year, perhaps take a lesson from the pages of The Ladies’ Home Journal and hide cash in a gift of your own creation.

All Posts by Date · All Posts by Category


I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



To receive updates from this site, you can subscribe to the  RSS feed of all updates to the site in an RSS feed reader