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Lecture 7

Lecture 7: "Anthronomics": What We Want and How We Get It

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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTH 1002
Professor
Eric Henry
Semester
Winter

Description
Lecture 7: What We Want and How We Get It  What happens if we base our understanding of economic life (production, consumption, trade, etc.) on the concept of culture?  When anthropologists talk about economics or the economy, we don’t limit ourselves to talking about money or markets. We mean the full range of culturally specific processes that people use to provide themselves with material resources.  Humans are often irrational, our choices are constrained (can’t take whatever we want), and we’re not always trying to maximize our wealth and material benefits. Anthropologists often divide economic activity into three distinct realms, or phases. 1. Production: how do people obtain the basic material necessities of life, including food, clothing, and shelter? 2. Distribution: how are these products distributed to those who need them? This entails practices, which move goods or share them within the community. 3. Consumption: how are these products eventually used? Some are consumed as food, others worn as clothing, and some products are even intentionally abandoned or destroyed. In terms of production, subsistence is basically how humans obtain all the basic necessities of life, including food, clothing, and shelter. Different groups of people have different strategies for obtaining these products, which affects the meaning of these activities. Subsistence Strategies  Food collectors: groups of people whose subsistence is primarily derived from foraging, fishing, and hunting o At one time, all humans were food collectors o Today, tend to be mobile for most of the year to take advantage of seasonal food sources o Consume a wide array of foods o Food collectors have been called the “original affluent society” o Not necessarily cut off from Western civilization, but have little material wealth o Affluent: relationship between production and desire; can limit desires o Buddhism: suffering removes attachment to desires  Food producers: groups of people whose subsistence is primarily derived from domesticated plants and animals. Food producers tend to rely on a smaller range of food sources o Herding: depend primarily on domesticated animals, often leading them through seasonal migration patterns o Extensive agriculture: farmers clear and burn small plots of land for crops. The soil is often quickly exhausted, and new areas must be cleared regularly. o Intensive agriculture: farmers and other technologies to bring larger plots of land under permanent cultivation. o Mechanized industrialized while farms themselves becomes businesses. 
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