Why do Anthropologists Study Economic Relations?
❖ Defining Economic Anthropology
o Looking at the chain from resources that can be used, traded and exchanged
❖ Fundamental of Economic Production and Labour
o Production
■ Mode of product
■ Means of product
■ Relations of product
o Labour
■ Voluntary vs. forced
■ Division of labour - roles throughout the house doing specific chores Marxism
❖ What are modes of exchange?
o It's a fundamental concept in anthropology
o The movement of material culture provides informational bout social organization, subsistence, politics and ideology
o Exchange can refer to both goods and information
o Exchange can be divided into internal (within a society) and external (with other cultural groups)
Types of Modes of Exchange
1. Reciprocity
2. Redistribution
3. Market
4. Mobilizative
❖ Mode of Exchange
o Reciprocity
■ Exchange between individuals who are equal
■ No formal accounting, competition
■ Ex. buy a coffee and the person buy next time
o Repayments
■ Gifting between socially equal people - don't usually involve cash
o Redistribution
■ Good are collected by a central authority and then redistributed
■ Involves groups and individuals that are socially unequal
■ Ex. hunters take animal down and the leader chooses how to distribute it
o Market Exchange
■ Capitalist mode of exchange
■ Common in complex societies o Mobilizative Exchange
■ Completely impersonalized - ex. Taxes collected come back as public services
■ Between groups and people who are unequal
❖ Gift Exchange
o In small scale societies, gift exchanged often form the basis of the social system
o Can move material long distances
o Two main features
1. They create social obligations
2. They redistribute goods
o Two important concepts
1. Function of prestige gifts
2. Sphere of exchange
❖ Gift Exchange: Marcel Mauss
o Gift giving as a “total social phenomenon"
■ Involved in all kinds of behaviours
o All cultures practice it but with different rules
o Obligated to give in certain circumstances - ex. Weddings, birthday etc.
o Identified 3 obligations
1. The obligation to give a gift
2. The obligation to receive
3. The obligation to repay (the most imperative)
o Each society has its own rules for:
1. When to give a gift
2. What to gift
3. How to gift
4. How to accept a gift
5. When and what to repay
❖ Gift Exchange and Feasting
o In some hunter -gatherer societies the role of the “big man" is attained by ever greater displays of gift giving, including the competitive feast (or potlatch) common to the west coast
■ These were also used to settle disputes
❖ Pacific North West Potlatches
o Haida, Tlingit, Coast Salish Nations
o Leveling device: equalized the distribution of goods between communities
■ Competition
o Reputation enhanced not by keeping wealth but by giving it away
o Form of social credit
■ Host chief and (kin) group later invited to other potlatches
Online Economics
❖ Online Economics
o Many online games (Sims) have virtual economies and in-game currency
o Usually linked with real world
■ Can “purchase" online goods for real world currency
■ Ex. in app purchases
o Value of in-game resources is tied to the in-game power they confer upon the owner
■ Capital
o Also “metagame” currencies
■ Not official currencies rather created and managed by endgame guilds to manage distribution of rewards
■ Ex Dragon Kill Points (DKP)
• Semi formal score-keeping system used by guild
❖ WoW and Gold Farming
o Gold farming: real-world scale of virtual goods and services produced in online games o Gold farmers play in-game to make currency then sell that for real money (via web) to other players of that game
■ Also "power-leveling": play purchasers character building up its levels and skills handed back to purchaser once agreed upon level is reached
o Richard Heeks (2008)
o Example of "cyber-work"
❖ WoW, Gold Farming, Labour, and Fairness
o Alicia Hibbert (2010)
■ In-game fairness via organization, distribution, and acquisition of wealth
■ Player perceptions of real-money trading in the context of individual and collective motivations in the endgame
■ Loot distribution systems as made of promoting player-initiated definitions of fairness
■ Economy of fun where real money trading was justified as individual progression serves to increase the fun of the collective
Why do People Consume What They do?
❖ Subsistence Strategies
o Foods collectors - hunt, fish, gather food
■ Small scale foragers - reply on few key stable resources
■ Complex foragers - go through many strategies to get the food
o Food producers
■ Herders
■ Horticulturalist
■ Extensive agriculture
■ Intensive agriculture
■ Mechanized industrial agriculture
❖ Consumption of Resources
o Consumption of resources
■ Internal explanation
■ External explanation - humans adapt to change in environments
• Ecology, ecozones, ecotones, econiche
■ Cultural explanation
o Cultural construction of "needs"
■ Dietary prohibitions (cultural - ex. is it kosher?)
■ Affluence (Wealth, what can you afford?)
■ Scarcity
❖ Summary o Economics is the exchange dimension o behaviour
■ All societies engage in exchange
■ Gifts are form of exchange that are a universal human phenomenon and can be considered basic to humanity
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