Situating Zelizer: A Beginners’ Guide


  • José Ossandón Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School



Economic sociology, Zelizer, Commercial circuits, Relational work, Money, Insurance


This short text could work both as a long footnote that contextualizes the interview with Viviana Zelizer published in this issue, and as a very brief beginner’s guide to Zelizer’s economic sociology. The premise is that a good way of introducing Zelizer’s contribution to the study of economic life is by situating her oeuvre in the context of recent research. The main argument is that Zelizer’s work is not simply a cultural counterbalance of the mostly structural “new economic sociology”. She has constructed an original angle to the study of economic life. From this perspective, sociologists learn to focus on the frictions in which economic life unfolds.


Bandelj, N., Wherry, F.F., & Zelizer, V.A. (Eds.). (2017). Money Talks: Explaining How Money Really Works. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Boltanski, L., & Thévenot, L. (2006). On Justification: Economies of Worth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Christin, A., Gramain, A., & Weber, F. (Eds.) (2016). Money & Value Twenty Years After Viviana Zelizer’s The Social Meaning of Money. Book & Ideas (last accessed June 6th 2019).

Cordero, R., Carballo, F., & Ossandón, J. (2008). Performing Cultural Sociology: A Conversation with Jeffrey Alexander. European Journal of Social Theory, 11(4), 523–542.

DiMaggio, P.J., & Powell, W.W. (1983). The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields. American Sociological Review, 48(2), 147–160.

Fligstein, N. (1996). Markets as Politics: A Political-Cultural Approach to Market Institutions. American Sociological Review, 61(4), 656–673.

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Boston: Harvard University Press.

Granovetter, M.S. (1973). The Strength of Weak Ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360–1380.

Granovetter, M. (1985). Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness. American Journal of Sociology, 91(3), 481–510.

Halawa, M., & Olcoń-Kubicka, M. (2018). Digital Householding: Calculating and Moralizing Domestic Life through Homemade Spreadsheets. Journal of Cultural Economy, 11(6), 514–534.

Healy, K. (2010). Last Best Gifts: Altruism and the Market for Human Blood and Organs. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Luzzi, M., & Wilkis, A. (2018). Soybean, Bricks, Dollars, and the Reality of Money: Multiple Monies during Currency Exchange Restrictions in Argentina (2011–2015). HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 8(1–2), 252–264.

Mears, A. (2011). Pricing Looks: Circuits of Value in Fashion Modeling Markets. In J. Beckert & P. Aspers (Eds.). The Worth of Goods: Valuation and Pricing in the Economy (pp. 155–177). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Müller, L. (2014). Negotiating Debts and Gifts: Financialization Policies and the Economic Experiences of Low-Income Social Groups in Brazil. Vibrant: Virtual Brazilian Anthropology, 11(1), 191–221.

Neiburg, F. (2010). Sick Currencies and Public Numbers. Anthropological Theory, 10(1–2), 96–102.

Ossandón, J., & Zelizer, V. (2019). How Did I Become a Historical Economic Sociologist? Viviana Zelizer in Conversation with José Ossandón. Sociologica, 13(3).

Ossandón, J. (2017). “My Story Has No Strings Attached”: Credit Cards, Market Devices and a Stone Guest. In F. Cochoy, J. Deville, & L. McFall (Eds.), Markets and the Arts of Attachment (pp. 132–146). London: Routledge.

Ossandón, J., Ariztía, T., Barros, M., & Peralta, C. (2018). Accounting in the Margin: Financial Ecologies in between Big and Small Data. In B. Maurer, S. Musaraj, & I. Small (Eds.), Money at the Margins: Global Perspectives on Technology, Financial Inclusion, and Design (pp. 200–220). NYC: Berghahn Books.

Stark, D. (2011). The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Smelser, N.J., & Swedberg, R. (2005). Introducing Economic Sociology. In N.J. Smelser, & R. Swedberg (Eds.), The Handbook of Economic Sociology (pp. 2–35). Princeton: Princeton university press.

Velthuis, O. (2007). Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Villarreal, M. (2014). Regimes of Value in Mexican Household Financial Practices. Current Anthropology, 55(S9), S30–S39.

Wilkis, A. (2017). The Moral Power of Money: Morality and Economy in the Life of the Poor. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Zelizer, V. (1994). Pricing the Priceless Child: The Changing Social Value of Children. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1985).

Zelizer, V. (1997). The Social Meaning of Money. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1994).

Zelizer, V. (2005). The Purchase of Intimacy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Zelizer, V. (2011). Economic Lives. How Culture Shapes the Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Zelizer, V. (2017). Morals and Markets: The Development of Life Insurance in the United States. NYC: Columbia University Press. (Original work published 1979).




How to Cite

Ossandón, J. (2019). Situating Zelizer: A Beginners’ Guide. Sociologica, 13(3), 185–190.