published on December 15, 2015
Money as Medium and Tool
Reading Simmel as a Philosopher of Technology to Understand Contemporary Financial ICTs and Media
This article explores the relevance of Georg Simmel’s phenomenology of money and interpretation of modernity for understanding and evaluating contemporary financial information and communication technologies (ICTs). It reads Simmel as a philosopher of technology and phenomenologist whose view of money as a medium, a “pure” tool, and a social institution can help us to think about contemporary financial media and technologies. The analysis focuses on the social-spatial implications of financial ICTs. It also makes links to media theory, in particular remediation theory and Marshall McLuhan, and refers to work in anthropology and geography of money to nuance the story of the progressive dematerialization and delocalization of modern life. The conclusion highlights Simmel’s continuing relevance for thinking about the relation between technologies and social change, and explores alternative social-financial media and institutions.