Money as Mass Communication: U.S. Paper Currency and the Iconography of Nationalism

Author: Lauer, Josh

Source: The Communication Review, 1 April 2008, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 109-132(24)


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This study offers a historical overview of U.S. paper money before and after its nationalization in 1861, drawing attention to its function as a medium of mass communication. Building upon recent scholarship concerning the social construction of money and national currencies, it is argued that U.S. currency is legitimated through visual strategies of rationalization and mystification, whereby the contractual obligations of the state are merged with the sacred bonds of national identity.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsyvlania,

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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