Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



intimate relationships, economic exchange, dispute resolution, biolaw


Viviana Zelizer’s recent book, The Purchase of Intimacy (2005) presents an innovative theory of how social and legal actors negotiate rights and obligations when money changes hands in intimate relationships--a perspective that could change how we understand many things, from valuations of homemaking labor to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. This essay describes Zelizer’s critique of the reductionist “Hostile Worlds” and “Nothing But” approaches to economic exchange in intimate relationships, then explains her more three-dimensional approach, “Connected Lives.” While Zelizer focuses on family law, the essay goes beyond that context, extending Zelizer’s approach to transfers of genetic material, and concluding that her approach could point toward a more equitable resolution of disputes in and about these markets.


Behavioral Economics | Family Law