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For the love of money moral orientations toward money in the ‘Good Life’

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Verdouw, JJ (2007) For the love of money moral orientations toward money in the ‘Good Life’. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Is money ‘good’? The pursuit of personal wealth as a primary life ‘good’ lies at the
heart of Australian society and culture. Yet in western culture, the traditional legacies
of money understandings endure: as a value-neutral tool of the economy, free from
moral considerations. This thesis provides a sociological analysis about how people
are morally oriented towards money. The thesis addresses money meanings from an
interpretative framework, in the context of in-depth interviews with forty-one young
Tasmanian adults about what they understand is a ‘good life’. A sociological analysis
of orientations towards what is ‘good’ in life provides a framework for thinking about
morality along similar lines to Emile Durkheim, or later, Charles Taylor, as related to
common, social and individual dispositions towards the ‘good’.
Drawn from three different income contexts - middle-income earners, low-income
earners and downshifters (those who have voluntary shifted to a lower-income) - this
thesis explores contrasting money narratives that highlight alternative money
meanings amongst participants. In particular, the dominant money narrative points to
a shared and culturally preferred way of understanding money: as good and
worthwhile pursuing for a ‘good life’. Meanings that underlie this narrative are
shown to have consequences for the motivations, identities, actions and future
directions of all participants in the study. These narratives are analysed drawing on a
number of theoretical discussions both within the sociology of money and sociology
of morality, including whether moral orientations towards money found in this culture
are in fact ‘good’. For example, can such forms of social morality be ‘moralitysilencing’
(Bauman 1989: 174) rather than something that generates individual moral
responsibility?

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2011 03:28
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:54
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