New Money

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How Payment Became Social Media

Lana Swartz

View Inside Format: Hardcover
Price: $28.00
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A new vision of money as a communication technology that creates and sustains invisible—often exclusive—communities

One of the basic structures of everyday life, money is at its core a communication media. Payment systems—cash, card, app, or Bitcoin—are informational and symbolic tools that integrate us into, or exclude us from, the society that surrounds us. Examining the social politics of financial technologies, Lana Swartz reveals what’s at stake when we pay.
This accessible and insightful analysis comes at a moment of disruption: from “fin-tech” startups to cryptocurrencies, a variety of technologies are poised to unseat traditional financial infrastructures. Swartz explains these changes, traces their longer histories, and demonstrates their consequences. She shows just how important these invisible systems are. Getting paid and paying determines whether or not you can put food on the table. The data that payment produces is uniquely revelatory—and newly valuable. New forms of money create new forms of identity, new forms of community, and new forms of power.

Lana Swartz is assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. She is the coeditor of Paid: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff.

"Our daily transactions—cash, credit, points, or promises—commit us to communities, identities, and politics on the most powerful social media platform of all: the payment system. Money talks, and Swartz's book reveals its conversations, declarations, commands, and lies."—Finn Brunton, author of Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency

“New Money is an insightful, well-researched, and well-written history of the nature and uses of money. Swartz shows the profound effect the Fintech revolution will have on society and each one of us.” —Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus, VISA, Inc.

"In an engaging and timely work, brimming with fascinating anecdotes and historical and literary references, Lana Swartz brilliantly illustrates how financial technologies are quietly transforming how we socialize and what it means to belong."—Jonathan Zittrain, author of The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It  

”In this groundbreaking social history, Swartz illuminates the hidden histories of payment systems and the cultural politics of transactional technologies. She reveals above all that money is a medium of communication.”—Bill Maurer, editor of A Cultural History of Money

“A masterful, grand tour of the communities and imaginaries that shape our transactional lives and the many identities we carry around in our wallets. New Money forces us to consider who is in control of our financial identity and who sets the rules for how our money works.”—Patrick Murck, Co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation 

“As cash and checks increasingly become 20th century relics, Lana Swartz provides a compelling guide to 21st- century payment systems. With sparkling style, innovative arguments, and memorable examples, New Money makes a unique contribution to the sociology of money.”—Viviana A. Zelizer, author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy

"Amidst a massive proliferation of competing payment systems, Lana Swartz provides a sharp and insightful analysis of the hidden infrastructures of money. This is a brilliant and indispensable study."—Nigel Dodd, author of The Social Life of Money 

"If money is a communication medium, this book is the perfect translator. Fluent across the many mechanisms and infrastructures of payment, Swartz makes the most opaque rituals of transaction clear, while giving us the much needed historical and political context for the latest technological dialects."—Kate Crawford, Distinguished Research Professor and co-founder of the AI Now Institute, NYU

“In evocative, accessible prose, Lana Swartz uncovers the provocative history of how communication became money became data. She illuminates the hidden worlds we enter every time we uncrumple a dollar bill, swipe a credit card, or tap a financial app.”—Virginia Eubanks, author of Automating Inequality
ISBN: 9780300233223
Publication Date: August 18, 2020
272 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
20 b/w illus.