Economic Anthropology: Goods and Services Provision

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Introduction to Economic Anthropology. Scardity Postulate, Property Systems. Division of Labor

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Economic Anthropology: Goods and Services Provision

  1. 1. Economic Anthropology The Cross-Cultural Provision of Goods and Services
  2. 2. Defining Economic Anthropology <ul><li>Basic definition: </li></ul><ul><li>The cross-cultural study of the </li></ul><ul><li>Production, distribution, and consumption of </li></ul><ul><li>goods and services </li></ul><ul><li>Economy is not to be confused with technology </li></ul><ul><li>Technology involves techniques, </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: hunting, cultivation, house construction and others. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Production <ul><li>How people organize their work </li></ul><ul><li>Preindustrial society divide labor by: </li></ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><li>Part-time specialization (full time in agricultural states) </li></ul><ul><li>In industrial societies, detail labor (labor split into subparts) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Distribution <ul><li>Emphasis is on exchange </li></ul><ul><li>Three types predominate: </li></ul><ul><li>Reciprocity </li></ul><ul><li>Redistribution </li></ul><ul><li>Market exchange </li></ul><ul><li>Exchange often is embedded in society </li></ul><ul><li>Yanomamo: trade is part of political alliance </li></ul><ul><li>Ongka’s Big Moka illustrates how power is derived from an elaborate system of exchange </li></ul>
  5. 5. Consumption <ul><li>Access to goods and services </li></ul><ul><li>Related to property, where such rules exist </li></ul><ul><li>An example of consumption: leveling mechanisms in fiesta systems (left) of </li></ul><ul><li>Mesoamerican cargo system </li></ul><ul><li>Involves some wealth leveling </li></ul><ul><li>Also community control over surplus wealth </li></ul>
  6. 6. Overview <ul><li>Scarcity postulate </li></ul><ul><li>Infinity of human wants </li></ul><ul><li>Limits of means to satisfy them </li></ul><ul><li>Source of substantivist-formalist debate </li></ul><ul><li>Relations of production, including property </li></ul><ul><li>Systems of exchange: 3 kinds of reciprocity, plus redistribution and market exchange </li></ul><ul><li>The embedding of economy in society or </li></ul><ul><li>Polanyi: economy as instituted process </li></ul>
  7. 7. Scarcity Postulate <ul><li>In Western society </li></ul><ul><li>Human wants are considered infinite </li></ul><ul><li>Means of satisfying them are finite </li></ul><ul><li>Example: cars from clunker to Lexus </li></ul><ul><li>Robbins’ definition of economics </li></ul><ul><li>“ The science which studies human behavior </li></ul><ul><li>as a relationship between ends </li></ul><ul><li>and scarce means that have alternative uses” </li></ul>
  8. 8. Are the Best Things in Life Free? <ul><li>Free goods </li></ul><ul><li>Goods that exist in plentiful supply </li></ul><ul><li>Few examples: air if you don’t mind the pollutants </li></ul><ul><li>Economic goods </li></ul><ul><li>Those that are scarce </li></ul><ul><li>Second sense of economics: economizing </li></ul><ul><li>How do you best use what is scarce? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Substantivism and Formalism <ul><li>Overview </li></ul><ul><li>Substantivists emphasize cultural relativism of economics </li></ul><ul><li>Scarcity is not universal </li></ul><ul><li>How goods and services </li></ul><ul><li>are produced and distributed </li></ul><ul><li>depend on the society studied </li></ul><ul><li>Formalists emphasize scarcity is everywhere </li></ul><ul><li>May be intangible thing, such as prestige </li></ul><ul><li>Time is finite, even if other things are not </li></ul>
  10. 10. Substantivism <ul><li>Polanyi: defined substantivism and formalism </li></ul><ul><li>Substantivism: provision of goods and services </li></ul><ul><li>Defined three major modes of exchange: reciprocity, redistribution, and market transactions </li></ul><ul><li>Argued that scarcity postulate does not apply everywhere </li></ul><ul><li>Economy is an instituted process. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Formalism <ul><li>Robbins: scarcity is everywhere present </li></ul><ul><li>A question of economizing: </li></ul><ul><li>Optimizing ends with limited means </li></ul><ul><li>Economizing occurs in </li></ul><ul><li>Noneconomic contexts: </li></ul><ul><li>Politics: “safe” districts, uncertain ones </li></ul><ul><li>Study time: major course, elective </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-culturally </li></ul><ul><li>Prestige is scarce </li></ul><ul><li>Onka’s Big Moka is illustrative </li></ul>
  12. 12. Summarizing Formalism: The Academic Market
  13. 13. Relations of Production <ul><li>Arrangements governing production of goods and services </li></ul><ul><li>Involve several variables </li></ul><ul><li>Property: </li></ul><ul><li>Is there such a thing as ownership? </li></ul><ul><li>If so, who exercises ownership? </li></ul><ul><li>What rights are included? </li></ul><ul><li>Labor relations: Who does what? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Property: Communalism and Joint <ul><li>Communalism: ownership by community </li></ul><ul><li>Property is freely accessible to all </li></ul><ul><li>Or it involves a sharing arrangement--meat among !Kung or Inuit </li></ul><ul><li>Mesoamerica: communal ownership, private use rights (usufruct) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Joint property <ul><li>All share in rights and obligations </li></ul><ul><li>Property held by members of a corporate lineage or clan </li></ul><ul><li>Example: cattle ownership among some East Africans </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis: Corporate Lineages and Clans </li></ul>
  16. 16. Descent Groups (Corporate Groups) <ul><li>Are organized with the following characteristics </li></ul><ul><li>Own estate: land, cattle, fishing/hunting ground </li></ul><ul><li>May be owned by group or </li></ul><ul><li>owned by their constituent families </li></ul>
  17. 17. Descent Groups: Rights and Obligations <ul><li>Estate entails rights and obligations </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><li>Rights to cattle for bridewealth </li></ul><ul><li>Obligation to provide cattle for bridewealth </li></ul><ul><li>Obligation to defend herds (or add to them) </li></ul><ul><li>Fulani: </li></ul><ul><li>If one loses herd due to disease </li></ul><ul><li>Others contribute to replenishment of here </li></ul>
  18. 18. Descent Groups: Perpetuity <ul><li>The lineage or clan is sociocentric </li></ul><ul><li>It outlasts the life span of individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Not unlike corporations and downsizing </li></ul><ul><li>Contrasts with kindreds- egocentric </li></ul><ul><li>Kindred comprises full brothers and sisters </li></ul><ul><li>Overlaps with other kindreds </li></ul><ul><li>When full siblings die, kindred dies </li></ul>
  19. 19. Legal Persons <ul><li>Corporations are defined as legal persons </li></ul><ul><li>Similar to descent groups </li></ul><ul><li>Kwakiutl: murder of noble of one clan by commoner of another </li></ul><ul><li>Requires death of noble of commoner’s clan </li></ul><ul><li>Responsibility is thereby collective </li></ul><ul><li>New Guinea: murder requires revenge--regardless of individual view </li></ul>
  20. 20. Property: Private <ul><li>Private property </li></ul><ul><li>Can be used to one’s own end </li></ul><ul><li>Community or public restrictions apply </li></ul><ul><li>One needs a permit to make renovations </li></ul><ul><li>Then there’s that ole debbil—Eminent Domain </li></ul><ul><li>Recent news: houses are being taken over by (private) corporations </li></ul>
  21. 21. Property: Command Economies <ul><li>State in command economies </li></ul><ul><li>Communist countries owned most productive assets </li></ul><ul><li>Upper Left: Chinese commune </li></ul><ul><li>Only remaining countries: Cuba, N. Korea </li></ul><ul><li>Inca: a administrative economy </li></ul><ul><li>Land mostly belonged to empire </li></ul><ul><li>Labor tax was motor of the Inca economy (lower left) </li></ul>
  22. 22. Division of Labor: Gender and Age <ul><li>Definition: Assignment of tasks based on societal rule or norm </li></ul><ul><li>Among foragers, horticulturalists, and pastoralists, division is assigned </li></ul><ul><li>By gender : women do some tasks; men, others </li></ul><ul><li>By age: youths do more strenuous tasks than the aged </li></ul><ul><li>The aged bring experience to each task </li></ul><ul><li>By part-time specialty: weaving, shamanism </li></ul><ul><li>But all handle jobs in primary sector: foraging or cultivating </li></ul>
  23. 23. Division of Labor: Craft Specialization, Detail Labor <ul><li>With intensive cultivation </li></ul><ul><li>More devote full time to specialized crafts </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge extends to all aspects of a given craft </li></ul><ul><li>Some may specialize by region: W. Guatemala </li></ul><ul><li>Industrialization: Detail labor </li></ul><ul><li>Which is more efficient in pin production? </li></ul><ul><li>One man cutting wire, pointing pin, putting head on it, whiting it, and papering it </li></ul><ul><li>Or five men, one to each task? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Division of Labor: Industrial Production System <ul><li>Detail labor involves breaking each task down </li></ul><ul><li>To its subtasks in production </li></ul><ul><li>Assigning each subtask to each individual and </li></ul><ul><li>Ordering each individual how to do each subtask </li></ul>
  25. 25. Effects: Globalized Division of Labor <ul><li>Has enabled globalization of production </li></ul><ul><li>Labor intensive tasks sent to Third World </li></ul><ul><li>Such as this leatherworking operation in Ecuador </li></ul><ul><li>Result: downsizing and plant closures </li></ul><ul><li>Mexican maquiladoras close </li></ul><ul><li>As low wages in China or Bangladesh draw factories there </li></ul>
  26. 26. Conclusion <ul><li>Economic anthropology covers provision and distribution of goods and services </li></ul><ul><li>We have looked at the scarcity postulate </li></ul><ul><li>Also covered: substantivism vs. formalism on the scarcity question </li></ul><ul><li>We looked at systems of property </li></ul><ul><li>We also examined the division of labor in nonindustrialized and industrialized societies. </li></ul><ul><li>We also showed how division of labor has become intrnational in scope. </li></ul><ul><li>Next, we look at the distribution of goods and services in terms of systems of exchange. </li></ul>

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