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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - Approaching the Economy - October 30.docx

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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT207H1
Professor
Tania Li

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October 30, 2012. Lecture 8 – Approaching “The Economy”  What is “the economy”? o Public discourse, presented to us through numbers o Production/making a living o Exchange/distribution – how goods are translated o Consumption! – economic activity, supply and demand  Formalists: rational allocation of resources  all people calculate costs/benefits vary in the “good” they try to maximize wealth, prestige, security, leisure, etc. o Focus is rational action, “Homo Economicus” o What’s the benefit of rational thinking? If we didn’t, we would be erratic o What we try to maximize is varying depending on individual to individual. (eg. Maximizing prestige by giving an expensive gift) o In opposition to counter  Substantialists: embedded in institutions o We are not actually rational, everything is embedded in us at a young age by structuralized institutions o Economic action is not abstract from the individual, the economists should look into power relations and cultural formations and social institutions  Production, sources of livelihood o Hunter/gatherer o Production to eat/sell – herding, agriculture o Produce non-food crops (rubber, timber, etc.) o Manufactured goods o Provided services o Waged work – local/distant; seasonal or permanent (eg. India, non-formal stars) o Live from capital/profit/inheritance (don’t work) o Several sources combined (most of the world’s population doesn’t just do one thing or one income)  Markets and Distribution o Neo-Classical Economics: markets as most efficient means to allocate resources, express choice o Adam Smith:  Matches supply and demand (eg. TOO much cabbage lowers the prices so you grow carrots next year to gain choice and money)  Eg. Government, no interfering with the economy/market o Marx’s Critique:  Allocation based on ownership of the means of production  Owners accumulate the surplus  Compulsion not choice; class interests  Who owns the means of production, that what determines the economy, we can’t just look at supply and demand (if you have no money you can’t express your demand)  Eg. India famine, had food but no money so the Brits still could buy their food  Money: convenient but dangerous o Barter – direct exchanges o Money makes all things anonymous, commensurable, standardized value (detached social relations) o Limit market by creating barriers, distinct spheres of exchange  Newr: cattle as bride price/blood money, as a symbol, the actual money doesn’t mean anything  We can’t buy babies, body parts, “love”, cash gifts can show love (shouldn’t be able to, but we do)  How
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