Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

Financial Arrangement as a Reflection of Household Order

Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

Financial Arrangement as a Reflection of Household Order

Article excerpt

Introduction

A household order, which is created by people living together, is based on numerous rules and principles-both those that are clearly articulated and those that are tacit. It concerns the division of household chores, the satisfaction of needs such as eating or sleeping, and ways of spending free time. The basic medium of these actions is money. However, due to its mundane and obvious nature, money often fails to be perceived as an aspect of daily life. The aim of this paper is to study the money practices of couples creating a joint household and the ways in which they go about their financial arrangement and define the rules for budgeting, spending, and saving money. As a result, this paper aims to examine how using money in daily life is a means of creating a household order.

In examining how actors create a household order by money practices, I will use the cultural and interpretative approach that provides a broader framework for this text, drawing attention to the creation of sense and meaning through social actions (Alexander 2003, Spill-man 2002). The insistence on a concentration on meaning has significantly influenced several sociological fields, including the new economic sociology. Alejandro Portes (2010:13) points out that the key meta-assumption at the foundation of new economic sociology is that economic transactions do not take place in a social vacuum but are rooted in cultural systems and social networks (cf. Granovetter 1985). The cognitive approach postulated by culturally oriented economic sociology (Wherry 2012, Bandelj 2015), and in particular the works of Viviana Zelizer in the area of money sociology, stress the significance of ordinary micro-scale monetary transactions, which occur through "relational work" (Zelizer 2012) and are imbued with cultural and social meaning (Zelizer 1997,2007,2010). In continuing Zelizer's approach, which is focused on the meaning of money, Bruce Caruthers and Wendy Espeland (1998) observe that this meaning is mainly created through practice. By drawing on these insights and examining the use of money in the daily life of a household, this paper implements this pragmatic tenet and is based on the research perspective of social practice theory (Schatzki 1996, Knorr-Cetina, Schatzki, Savigny 2001).

In social practice theory, money management practices would be called "integrative" as they are crucial for a particular dimension of life-in this case, running the household together, which involves earning, spending, and saving money, paying the bills, doing the shopping, and also budgeting and talking about money, with the associated role allocation. The set of money practices, the rules governing it, and the shared meanings around these practices, create a financial "arrangement" which reflects the household order. The notion of an "arrangement" will be a key analytical category in this paper.1 As other practice theorists have noticed (Turner 2001, Barnes 2001), the departure point for creating order through practices is an orientation toward joint action. As a result, the effect of these actions is a common "accomplishment." Therefore, I will also assume a relational perspective, by looking at the financial arrangement as a result of practices performed not solely by individuals but rather by two people living together.

The issue of budgeting and managing money by couples running a joint household has previously been undertaken by other researchers, including Supriya Singh (1997), who offered detailed ethnographic descriptions of how spouses' manage money and of depositing money in joint or separate bank accounts. On the other hand, the research by Jan Pahl (1989) focused on showing budgeting models based on control, i.e., decisions about spending the household income, and on management, that is, paying the bills and doing the shopping on a daily basis. Pahl noticed that married couples manage and control their money by one of the following systems, depending on whether they function as a single unit or as two independent economic individuals: (1) management by the wife, or a whole-wage system, (2) an allowance system, (3) a pooling system or shared management, and, (4) an independent management system (Pahl 1989: 67-77). …

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