Purpose – Inspired by “old” institutional arguments, this chapter presents the ideas of both the “old” and “new” institutional perspective as their arguments appear in the…
Purpose – Inspired by “old” institutional arguments, this chapter presents the ideas of both the “old” and “new” institutional perspective as their arguments appear in the economic anthropology literature following the substantivist–formalist debate of the 1960s.
Design/methodology/approach – During the 1960s the substantivist–formalist debate, otherwise known as the “Great Debate,” thrust institutional thought to the forefront of economic anthropology. By the close of the 1960s, the substantivist–formalist debate passed unresolved. Institutional economic anthropology reached a crossroad – it could continue the legacy of the substantivism as represented by “old” institutionalism or follow the path of “new” institutional economics. Against the long shadow of the “Great Debate,” this chapter identifies key epistemological ideas that are present within the recent history of the institutional economic anthropology literature.
Findings – On the basis of epistemological arguments, the chapter suggests that if the substantivist–formalist debate, often times referred to as the “Great Debate,” is ever to achieve closure, then practitioners of institutional economic anthropology would benefit by moving beyond “new” institutional thought.
Originality/value – This chapter provides a unique evaluation of the institutional perspective within the history of economic anthropology. Residing within this history are clear and poignant distinctions between the “old” and “new” institutional perspectives. As a result, this chapter seeks to bring to social scientists interested in institutional economists, important insights from economic anthropology that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
This thirty-second volume in the REA series represents a joint effort between two former students of Norbert Dannhaeuser, who edited REA together with his colleague…
This thirty-second volume in the REA series represents a joint effort between two former students of Norbert Dannhaeuser, who edited REA together with his colleague Cynthia Werner from 2001 to 2005, and who served as the chair of both Donald's and Ty's M.A. thesis committees at Texas A&M University. Norbert also was chair of Ty's Ph.D. committee. Donald was just settling on Japan as his geographic focus in anthropology around 1993, and although this was not Norbert's specialty he was very familiar with the canon of postwar Japanese village studies. Introducing Donald to this body of work had a tremendous influence on his academic development and his future path. Prior to this more intensive and focused guidance, however, it was taking Norbert's core Anthropological Theory (ANTH 410) course at Texas A&M in the autumn term of 1992 – exactly 20 years ago – that convinced Donald to commit himself to a career in anthropology in the first place. Similarly, Ty's career development as an anthropologist owes a considerable debt to Norbert. The knowledge acquired from him both in the field (the Philippines) and classroom (Texas A&M University) has proven indispensable in influencing Ty's geographical and topical focus. Both of us would like to take this opportunity to thank Norbert for all of his guidance and encouragement. We humbly dedicate this volume of REA to him in honor of all of his contributions to the field of anthropology, and also out of gratitude for his support when we were just starting out.
This chapter will address (only) one issue from the 1960s substantivist/formalist debate, the treatment of choice. The substantivists rejected the economic universality of…
This chapter will address (only) one issue from the 1960s substantivist/formalist debate, the treatment of choice. The substantivists rejected the economic universality of the neoclassical axioms of choice under scarcity and the isolated and selfish nature of the choice process. A common formalist response was that their model based on these axioms could be modified to include whatever specific conditions economic choice was being made under. This chapter rejects that claim, based on a consideration not included in the debate. It is argued that the mathematical structure of the standard formal neoclassical model prevents it from incorporating the substantivist criticisms, and that to modify it in accord with these criticisms would necessarily result in a model that is outside the neoclassical approach to economic decision-making.
Although Research in Economic Anthropology (REA) actually hit the quarter-century mark in 2003 with the publication of Volume 22, the series has now done so also in terms of the number of volumes. Twenty-five seems like an important milestone, and perhaps this edition can be noted for passing that, but it also marks the third editorial change in the history of REA. When a new editor takes over, it seems prudent to offer a summary of the book series’ evolution to date. As many know, George Dalton was the original editor – beginning in 1978 (REA was then published by JAI Press). Dalton subsequently handed the reins to Barry Isaac, who produced Volumes 6 through 20, along with a number of supplemental publications that focused on specific topics or regions and contained only chapters of an archeological or ethnohistorical nature. In fact, Isaac is still recognized for his efforts at granting archeology an equal footing with ethnology in the study of human economic behavior.1 While Dalton included previously published material in the pages of REA and welcomed works by non-anthropologists, Isaac considered only original manuscripts and generally limited his selection of chapters to those written by anthropologists. Since Volume 20, REA has been published by Elsevier.