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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Anthropology

Undergraduate Course: Demystifying Money (SCAN10081)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryKnowledge of how money works and how critically to think about money's many uses, users, avatars, and relations are key practical skills for any person in today's world. This course will demystify notions of money and its relationships as being abstract and too complex for anyone but economists and mathematicians to understand.
Course description Money is often thought of at once as mundane and ordinary - we all deal with money in some form on a daily basis - and impossibly complex, best left to professional economists and bankers. In this course, we will explore the rich anthropological literature from across the world to demystify our notions of money as being simple/neutral and as complex/universal. Through topics from value, happiness, morality, and debt to analyses of financial booms and busts, we will reveal anthropological tools as crucial for understanding human monetary systems across time and space. Weekly concepts will be illustrated through a term-long game, in which students will deal with and trade in the course's own alternative currency.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesPre-requisite of an introduction to Social Anthropology course
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a critical understanding of the main areas of study linked to the conception, use, and exchange of money in various contexts around the world.
  2. Engage critically with the work of scholars in economic anthropology, economic sociology, and Science and Technology Studies, and evaluate their arguments.
  3. Assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current complex issues relating to real-world monetary trends, booms and busts.
  4. Develop their ability to present - in written and verbal form - coherent, balanced arguments surrounding the role of politics, hierarchies, social norms, moral systems, and cultures of expertise in determining the valuation of money;
  5. Use a range of research skills to plan and execute a research project on how people use and assign value to various forms of money.
Reading List
Ho, Karen. 2009. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Durham: Duke University Press.
Maurer, Bill. 2015. How Would You Like to Pay?: How Technology is Changing the Future of Money. Durham: Duke University Press.
Parry, Jonathan, and Maurice Bloch (eds.). 1989. Money and the Morality of Exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Zelizer, Viviana. 1997. The Social Meaning of Money: Pin Money, Paychecks, Poor Relief, and other Currencies. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students should have strengthened their skills in:
1. Synthesizing and analyzing empirical and theoretical materials from a variety of sources, with particular emphasis on lateral thinking;
2. Examining, using, and critiquing evidence presented by industry bodies and other academic disciplines;
3. Developing and evaluating arguments that take different kinds of social complexity into account.
4. Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgment.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Juli Huang
Course secretaryMr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925
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