Morals and Markets: The Development of Life Insurance in the United States by Viviana A. Rotman ZelizerMorals and Markets: The Development of Life Insurance in the United States by Viviana A. Rotman Zelizer

Morals and Markets: The Development of Life Insurance in the United States

byViviana A. Rotman Zelizer

Paperback | August 8, 2017

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Life insurance-the promise of an insurer to pay a sum upon a person's death in exchange for a regular premium-is a bizarre enterprise. How can we monetize human life? Should we? What statistics do we use, what assumptions do we make, and what behavioral factors do we consider? First published in 1979, Morals and Markets was a pathbreaking study exploring the development of life insurance in the United States. Viviana A. Rotman Zelizer combined economic history and sociological perspective to advance a novel interpretation of the life insurance industry. The book pioneered a cultural approach to the analysis of morally controversial markets.

Zelizer begins in the mid-nineteenth century with the rise of the life insurance industry, a contentious chapter in the history of American business. Life insurance was stigmatized at first, denounced in newspapers and condemned by religious leaders as an immoral and sacrilegious gamble on human life. Over time, the business became a widely praised arrangement to secure a family's future. How did life insurance overcome cultural barriers? As Zelizer shows, the evolution of the industry in the United States matched evolving attitudes toward death, money, family relations, property, and personal legacy.

Viviana Zelizer is the Lloyd Cotsen '50 Professor in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University. She is the author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy (2010), The Purchase of Intimacy (2005), The Social Meaning of Money (1994), and Pricing the Priceless Child (1985). She is also coeditor of the series Princeton ...
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Title:Morals and Markets: The Development of Life Insurance in the United StatesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:264 pagesPublished:August 8, 2017Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231183356

ISBN - 13:9780231183352

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Editorial Reviews

This book is as fresh in its argument and creative approach as when it originally appeared in 1979. The argument is both sociologically and existentially relevant, as in all of Zelizer's work. The approach can be characterized as a skillful and unique way of theorizing in economic sociology that draws equally on values and social relations. Morals and Markets is a gem and a classic.