This collection highlights a key metaphor in contemporary discourse about economy and society. The contributors explore how references to reality and the real economy are linked both to the utopias of collective well-being, supported by real monies and good economies, and the dystopias of financial bubbles and busts, in which people’s own lives “crash” along with the reality of their economies.
An ambitious anthropology of economy, this volume questions how assemblages of vernacular and scientific realizations and enactments of the economy are linked to ideas of truth and moral value; how these multiple and shifting realities become present and entangle with historically and socially situated lives; and how the formal realizations of the concept of the “real” in the governance of economies engage with the experiential lives of ordinary people. Featuring essays from some of the world’s most prominent economic anthropologists, The Real Economy is a milestone collection in economic anthropology that crosses disciplinary boundaries and adds new life to social studies of the economy.
At a time of bewildering economic transformations, what a gift it is to read The Real Economy. Two brilliant scholars, Jane Guyer and Federico Neiburg, have assembled an international dream team of experts guiding us into new understandings of economic life. Mixing theoretical insight with fascinating ethnographic evidence, the essays take us along a memorable tour of the lived economic experience in the worlds of finance, households, currency exchanges, black economies and much more. By setting a new research agenda, the book will surely shape future cross-disciplinary research.
Viviana Zelizer, author of Economic lives: How culture shapes the economy
Page count: 310 pp