1st Edition

Money A Theory of Modern Society

By Nico Stehr, Dustin Voss Copyright 2019
    356 Pages
    by Routledge

    356 Pages
    by Routledge

    Since the publication of Georg Simmel’s Philosophy of Money more than a century ago, social science has primarily considered money a medium of exchange. This new book treats money as a more inclusive social concept that has profoundly influenced the emergence of modern society. Money is also a moral and political category. It communicates prices and thus embodies innumerable evaluations and judgments of objects and services, of social relationships and associations.

    At the same time, modern societies are undergoing fundamental transformations in which money assumes an ever-important role, while banking and financial services constitute the new primary sector of modern service economies. In this book, the authors trace the transformational scope of monetarization and financialization along the four classical productive forces—land, capital, labor, and knowledge—and evaluate the consequences of an irrepressible urge to quantify and monetarize almost everything social. What happens to a society in which the tangible products of the real economy lose their preeminent status, and everything is judged purely according to its economic value? The authors identify an increasing disconnect between market prices and social values with serious social, political, economic, and environmental consequences.


    List of Figures and Tables; Preface; Introduction; Chapter 1: The Immaterial Economy; Chapter 2: The Price of Land; Chapter 3: The Price of Capital; Chapter 4: The Price of Labor; Chapter 5: The Price of Knowledge; Conclusions



    Nico Stehr was until the summer of 2018 Karl Mannheim Professor of Cultural Studies at the Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany. He is a fellow of the Royal Society (Canada) and a fellow of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. His research interests center on the transformation of modern societies into knowledge societies and developments associated with this transformation in different major social institutions of modern society (e.g. science, politics, governance, the economy, inequality, and globalization); in addition, his research interests concern the societal consequences of climate change. He is one of the authors of the Hartwell Paper on climate policy. Among his recent book publications are: Information, Power and Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Knowledge: Is Knowledge Power (with Marian Adolf , Routledge, 2016) and Society and Climate (with Amanda Machin, World Scientific Publishers, 2019).

    Dustin Voss is PhD candidate in Political Economy at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science. His dissertation is concerned with the turn to neoliberalism and the rise of economic orthodoxy in social democratic policy making. His research interests include comparative political economy, monetary and fiscal policy, financialization, and the relationship of democracy and capitalism in advanced nations. He holds an MSc in Political Economy of Europe (with Distinction) from the LSE as well as a BA in Sociology, Politics, and Economics from Zeppelin University, Germany.

    Not since Georg Simmel's The Philosophy of Money has there been a book that so persuasively examines money— hence also, capitalism—from the point of view of culture and knowledge. In Money: A Theory of Modern Society Nico Stehr and Dustin Voss have made an important contribution—not just to social theory but to our understanding of the current world order.  —Charles Lemert, University Professor and John C. Andrus Professor of Social Theory Emeritus, Wesleyan University, USA

    This new masterpiece explores the mysterious existence of money—a myth without intrinsic value. Stehr and Voss carefully disclose how and why money (and economic relations in general) "disguise" social processes and what putting prices on land, capital, labor, and knowledge means for societies. A must read for any scholar in sociology.  —Lucia Reisch, Professor, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Management, Society and Communication, Denmark

    This is a very ambitious and interesting volume on the many different roles that money plays in the modern world. Perhaps it can be characterized as something that Georg Simmel, the author of The Philosophy of Money, would have written if he had lived today. Read and enjoy!  —Richard Swedberg, Professor of Sociology, Cornell University, USA

    Social theory is in need of renewal, in a world in which the past is recognizable but no longer informative in terms of the old categories. Nico Stehr and Dustin Voss go to the heart of the problem: the role of money and the problematic relation of the fact of price to the puzzlingly elusive facts of value, such as the value of knowledge, and indeed of work itself. This book is an excellent inventory of, and introduction to, the intellectual resources we have for this renewal, and a contribution to it.  —Stephen Turner, Distinguished Professor, University of South Florida, USA

    Money has been at the center of social theory in its different attempts to understand modern society and to disclose its dynamics from the classics up to our time. The study of Nico Stehr and Dustin Voss is an extraordinary enrichment of this tradition. It starts from what we know and leads us systematically step by step far beyond the state of the art to help us understand and explain how money in its contemporary form of the financialization of everything penetrates every sphere of human action to transform modern society fundamentally. This is social theory at its best. The study features all qualities to make it a classic.  —Richard Münch, Emeritus of Excellence, Department of Sociology, University of Bamberg, Germany