The social life of money among Ghanaian Londoners

Puskas, Ashley. 2020. The social life of money among Ghanaian Londoners. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is an ethnographic examination of the social role that money plays in the lives of Ghanaian Londoners, and sits at the intersection of money and community making. By focusing on money’s presence in four key spheres of social interaction for my informants (remittance giving, Christian faith, love and marriage and households), I am able to trace money’s integral role in the lives of the members of this community.

By drawing on moral economies and wealth in people frameworks, this work seeks to demonstrate how my informants preserve certain understandings of personhood and cultural practices in London’s neoliberal environment by productively adapting them to navigate and negotiate life in the diaspora. These practices, which embed social relations within monetary exchange and vice versa, then inform the value they attribute to money and perceptions of market economies.

I also demonstrate how these different forms of monetary transaction operate alongside different timescales of reciprocity, allowing my informants to strategically address short, mid and long term needs and goals. Thus, my informants tactically engage with different transactions in different realms of social interaction at different times in their life course to address both near and distant futures. Therefore, this work represents a contribution to anthropological theory on timescales of reciprocity.

Furthermore, this work provides a contribution to the empirical anthropological literature through its examination of intimate relations, changing gender norms and gendered divisions of labour in households with regard to monetary expenditure and ownership. This demonstrates the extent to which migration, gendered expectations, customary values, and Christian Pentecostal beliefs all intersect to impact the ways that money impacts gender relations in the diaspora.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Migration, diaspora, London, Ghanaians, West Africa, anthropology, reciprocity, remittances, Pentecostalism, Christianity, households, courtship

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



29 February 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Apr 2020 14:28

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:15


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