Forms and Functions of Value Transfer in Contemporary Society

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
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  • 1 University of California, Irvine
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Renewed anthropological attention to money and finance is welcome. However, recent attention to the ghosts in the financial machine neglects the infrastructures of payment that make finance possible. Following professionals and policymakers into the clearance and settlement of payments - the means of value transfer - affords insight into an industry hotly contested by new entrants and by a few critics who find in its business model a defiance of market logic. The tolls and fees of private payment infrastructures pose challenges to critical analyses of capitalism as well as to the public interest in payment, even as they are essential to the forms and functions of value transfer. Everyday exchanges are tolled, large-scale transfers are not: the article suggests that payment is a pressing political concern, as well as an analytical one.


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