Lecture 10 July 25, 2013
Assignment #2 is due next week, Aug 1st.
DISTRIBUTION AND EXCHANGE
- Karl Polyani defined 3 basic modes of distribution/exchange
3. Market Exchange
Informal exchange of goods and /or labour
Basis of most non-market economies, but common to all
Powerful form of exchange that creates and emphasizes social relationships.
Marcel Mauss (1872-1950) - The Gift (1923)
Gift economies of small-scale societies contrasted with commodity exchanges
Explores the way that the reciprocal exchange of objects between groups builds
relationship between humans - no such thing as free gift
Distinguished between 3 obligations
Giving- the necessary initial step for the creation and maintenance of social
Receiving- for to refuse to receive to reject the social bond
Reciprocating - in order to demonstrate one's own status, prestige, honour and
3 Main Types
1. Generalized --> Someone gives and expects nothing immediate or of equal
value in return. Signifies close social relationship.
2. Balanced --> Someone gives and expect return of something of equal value.
Signifies social distance. Lack of reciprocation can harm social relationship
E.g., If you go to prof to borrow money for lunch, he expects that you will return
the money next week.
3. Negative --> Exchange were one parties intends to benefit at expense of the
other. Minimum amount of social trust/relationship. Example: Cattle raids
- Reciprocity: The Kula Ring
Kula exchange is a complex system of gifts and counter-gifts whose rules are laid down
by custom. Kula valuable are non-use items traded purely for purpose of enhancing one's social
status and prestige
Exchanges establish strong, ideally lifelong relationships between the exchange parties
Important chiefs can have hundreds of partners (and therefore kula items) while less
significant participants may only have fewer than dozen
Melanisians carefully extinguish between gift exchange and market exchange
Goods (or services) more from the local level to a center
Controlled through a hierarchy of officials who many consume some of the goods
Eventually, goods are redistributed- that is, they flow in the reverse direction, down
through the hierarchy and back to the local level.
Often serves purpose of social security --> making sure all members of groups of basic
necessities to survive.
Act of leveling mechanisms: Shrink gaps between rich and poor and help to limit social
Examples: social welfare programs, like public healthcare or Employment Insurance (EI).
REDISTRIBUTION: The Potlatch
Potlatch is a gift-giving festival and primary economic system practices by Indigenous
Peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and the U.S.A.
Rituals in which sponsors (assisted by members of their communities) gave away
resources in exchange for greater prestige
Banned by Europeans because it was seen as "irrational and wasteful". Barrier to
Shown by anthropologists to be adaptive response to alternating periods of abundance
3. Market Exchange
The Market Principle
In capitalist economy, market principle governs distribution of means of
Law of Supply and Demand
Transactions are made with labour, goods and services brought with money
No lasting social relations between producer and consumer
Karl Polanyi- European states (England) were first societies to have market
principle as primary force driving production and exchange. Market Society. CONSUMPTION
- Consumption: The acquisition and/or use of goods.
- Can serve to meet basic needs, or to highlight identity/ and or social status
- Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the purchases of goods and
services in ever-great amounts.
- Conspicuous Consumption is the spending on money on goods in order to display status. E.g.,
wearing fancy jewellery to show off the status.
- Many non-industrial societies limit consumption to subsistence goods, and discourage
conspicuous consumption through informal social control --> Taboos and rumours, gossip
What is the "Political"