Card image cap
Card image cap

Money, circuits, intimate relationships

Viviana A. Zelizer

The dichotomy between intimate and interpersonal relationships stems from a longstanding tradition. As an alternative to this dichotomy, the present article proposes an approach based on the recognition of interpersonal circuits. To illustrate the range of this concept, four areas are taken under consideration: 1) corporate circuits; 2) local currencies; 3) paid personal care, and 4) children’s participation in family economies. The author concludes that both intimate and impersonal transactions frequently work through circuits that participants mark off amongst each other through well-established practices, understandings and representations that differ from one circuit to the next. Far from determining the nature of interpersonal relations, the media of exchange (including legal tenders) incorporated within the circuits take on specific connotations according to the understandings, practices, and representations embedded in these circuits. These are the means by which people bridge the apparently unbridgeable gap between social solidarity and monetized transactions. They form the crossroads of money and intimacy.