Liquid Charity

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4 Responses

  1. Keri says:

    Does the liquidity of money undoes some of Simmel’s ideas about money, which relies upon attainability of objects? Or is there still some sense of the attainable, the unattainable, and the too easily attainable? It would be interesting if even liquid money can attain us objects which have value because of human perception of the distance one must go to own the object.


  2. pjrey says:


    Good questions. I think Simmel certainly prefigures this in a way by emphasizing that value is rooted in the vicissitudes of exchange (as opposed to Marx who roots it in the consistency of labor). Anyway, as far as distance is concerned, I’d say that, in the digital world, ideas are the primary commodity. Ideas often take the form of little packages of code that we generally call “programs” or “apps.” Codes are often protected. In fact, the phrase “digital rights management” (DRM) has come into common usage describing such protections. So, even though exchange can be instantaneous, all sorts of structures and barriers are erected to create distance or scarcity and ensure that exchanges occur on the terms of the rights-holders.

    I guess the remaining question is whether the Internet has made many things too easily accessible so that we “under-value” them. This could apply equal to information and relationships. On the one hand, does the freeness of news cause us to value good reporting less? On the other hand, has it become too easy to “friend” someone? Has friendship, for this reason, lost its traditional significance? These are my fears. Data shows that social networks have made people more social, but it is the depth of these relationships that I question. In the same way, the breadth of people’s knowledge is expanding, but this may come at the expense of hard-earned depth.


  1. 26th January 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Todd Stolze and Sociology Lens, Sociology Lens. Sociology Lens said: Posted: Liquid Charity: by pj.rey In the ten days following the earthquake that devastated Haiti’s capital, Americ… […]

  2. 9th March 2010

    […] (Reposted from Sociology Lens) […]

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