Digitala pengar. Nya villkor i det sociala livet
It has often been argued that money and modern monetary economies have occasioned a comprehensive rationalisation of society. Money has often been viewed as being socially destructive, while it is said that the modern monetary economy has had inescapable consequences for society, culture, and people’s daily lives. This thesis considers the introduction of computerised systems for handling digital money in daily life - Internet banking. In addition, the creation of Internet banking, and its subsequent recreations, is analysed in the light of its users’ understanding of the technology, and the ways in which they adopt it in their daily lives. The thesis applies a detailed perspective on daily life in order to understand people’s experiences of digital money. Digital money, just like cash, is a medium of exchange, but unlike paper money and coins, it has a more abstract quality that has a direct bearing on how people understand it and use it. This change brings with it many new social opportunities, but also new problems. Three different methods were employed in the collection of empirical data for the thesis: interviews, observations, and text analysis. Internet bank customers, particularly older users, were interviewed about their experience of the changes brought by information technology on the circumstances of their economic relationships. Many of the users who were interviewed were later observed, primarily at the premises of Seniornet, an IT support association. In order to analyse the design of the technical systems for economic transactions over the Internet, qualitative interviews were held with leading figures from the Swedish banks’ Internet businesses. These interviews were supplemented with a content analysis of the periodical Finansvärlden [The Financial World] for the years 1994 to 2001, together with a selection of other published material from various branches of the media. In the light of the empirical analysis presented in the thesis, users’ notions of digital money appear to be contradictory. Digital money is more rational and standardised, but at the same time more socially determined. The greater control offered by Internet banking over personal finances is often emphasised by interviewees, as is the fact that technology can be used to structure the everyday use of money. Yet at the same time digital money is harder to control that cash. Instead of making it easier to manage their personal finances, many with a limited knowledge of the technology’s uses find that Internet banking is a source of concern. The technology is sometimes felt to be complex, insecure, and difficult to handle. Internet banking can make everyday financial transactions more convenient, but also reduces convenience. The adoption of Internet banking varies enormously between different groups. Amongst the younger interviewees, many have taken full advantage of the new opportunities that Internet banking proffers. Amongst the older interviewees, Internet banking is used primarily to pay invoices that they previously paid at their local branch or by postal giro. Many of the older interviewees seem to lack trust in digital money on the Internet. With more user-friendly technology, a greater acceptance of their particular needs in an information technology society, and the construction of social networks to support their Internet use, it would be possible to include older people in the digital society in greater numbers than is the case today.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:SOCIAL SCIENCES; Zelizer; senior citizens; Simmel; social meaning of money; rationalisation; Digital money; money and social life; money economy; information technology; Internet banking; digital divide
Date of Publication:01/01/2008