Bosco, Liu, and West's chapter on underground lotteries in rural China is one that begs permission to cross the boundaries between parts of this volume, for it deals with the integration of the Chinese economy with others, and it also poses certain moral questions about the nature of markets and rationality in economic exchanges (see also Suarez, this volume). But the authors, after reviewing the evidence, ultimately conclude that China's underground lotteries must be viewed in relation to that country's phenomenal economic development in recent decades. They show that the rise of illegal underground lotteries in China is tightly connected to the development of the modern capitalist economy there, and that although it seems at first glance to be powered by irrationality and superstition, it actually functions according to capitalist principles – at least as viewed by the participants. They also argue that rural villagers who place bets in them are not mere victims of nonsensical beliefs or of opportunistic “outsiders,” but rather that they are participating in their own way in a system in which luck clearly plays a very large role, but one over which they have little control, and one that is grounded in the historical commercialized economy of China (see also Richardson, 1999). It is interesting to note the way that participants rationalize the lottery and their actions through their assumption that it is rigged – their approach to it is markedly different from that of someone from, for example, Japan or the United States, where such a lottery is assumed from the start to not be rigged. Bosco and co-authors well demonstrate here the importance of viewing a cultural phenomenon as part of a greater whole, and one in a constant state of flux.
Wood, D.C. (2009), "Introduction: economic development, integration, and morality in Asia and the Americas", Wood, D.C. (Ed.) Economic Development, Integration, and Morality in Asia and the Americas (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 29), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0190-1281(2009)0000029003Download as .RIS
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