Few economic phenomena provoke as much confusion as money. From the first measures of value and the physical coins that circulated at the dawn human civilization to the era of ‘virtual’ money transmitted through cyberspace, it is ubiquitous and hugely important, yet economists cannot even agree on what it is.

In this pithy, accessible book, Geoffrey Ingham cuts through this tangled web of debate to bring rare clarity. Ingham begins by examining the fundamental debate over the nature of money: is it fundamentally a natural, ‘neutral’ measure of pre-existing value produced by ‘real’ economic forces? Or is it a socially produced and politically manipulated force that creates new value? He proceeds to trace the import of these competing views for how we understand our contemporary monetary systems and their practical and policy-related implications, from their role in financial crises to proposals for reform.

Students of political economy, economic sociology and monetary economics will find this book an invaluable primer, as will general readers wishing to understand how money shapes their lives, from the cash in their pocket to the numbers on their computer screen.
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  • January 2020
  • 189 pages
  • 143 x 219 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $59.95
  • 9781509526819
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509526826
  • Open eBook $9.99
  • 9781509526857
Table of Contents
Part I     What is Money?

1 Money’s Puzzles
2 The ‘incompatibles’
3 A social theory of money and monetary systems

Part II    Capitalism and Money

4  The evolution of capitalist money
5 Modern money (i): states, central banks, and their banking system
6 Modern money (ii): ‘near’ money; ‘complementary’, ‘alternative’; ‘surrogate’ money; and ‘crypto currency’
7 The Great Financial Crisis and the Question of Money
8 Some conclusions
About the Author
Geoffrey Ingham is Emeritus Reader in Sociology and Political Economy at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Christ's College
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‘Geoffrey Ingham offers a masterful account of money as a social technology, contrasting it with mainstream monetary theory and focusing on the relations between states and markets. He does so with an impressive sweep from ancient history to the present.’
Sheila Dow, University of Stirling

‘This is a brilliantly clear and succinct survey. Ingham provides a crisp and critical account of the major theories of money, together with a sharp analysis of contemporary forms of money such as Bitcoin and other alternative moneys. For anyone searching for a reliable and accessible way into the extraordinarily complex phenomenon of money, this book is a must-read.’
Nigel Dodd, London School of Economics and Political Science

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