Money and Society
What caused the financial crisis of 2008? Now that the dust has started to settle, it’s a good time to ask this question. We will critically examine various factors, including incentive structures and social norms on Wall Street, and the effects of ratings agencies, government regulations, and bailouts. While debating the relative importance of these factors, we will engage larger questions, such as, In choosing between competing explanations, how are we affected by empirical evidence, logic, and our ideological views of the market, the state, and individual freedom? And how do culture and power interact? Similar questions will be raised in the latter part of the course, when we will examine the causes and consequences of income inequality, as well as the psycho-social nature of money. Throughout, we will employ a mixture of anthropological, philosophical, and economic perspectives. Texts will include competing accounts of the financial crisis and income inequality, as well as Georg Simmel’s The Philosophy of Money.
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