The Cold War was fought between "state socialism" and "the free market." That fluctuating relationship between public power and private money continues today, unfolding in new and unforeseen ways during the economic crisis. Nine case studies -- from Southern Africa, South Asia, Brazil, and Atlantic Africa - examine economic life from the perspective of ordinary people in places that are normally marginal to global discourse, covering a range of class positions from the bottom to the top of society. The authors of these case studies examine people's concrete economic activities and aspirations. By looking at how people insert themselves into the actual, unequal economy, they seek to reflect human unity and diversity more fully than the narrow vision of conventional economics.