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 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.
This chapter outlines and critiques Japan’s Furusato Nozei tax program from an economic anthropological perspective. This chapter first introduces the socio-political…
This chapter outlines and critiques Japan’s Furusato Nozei tax program from an economic anthropological perspective. This chapter first introduces the socio-political organization of taxes together with the social-scientific paradigms that have been brought to analyze taxation within anthropological thinking. The chapter then outlines Japan’s tax history and the Furusato Nozei, or Hometown Tax program, before critiquing the program on the basis of these social science and anthropological. This critique confirms the validity of evaluating this Japanese tax program in its orientation and operation from an anthropologic viewpoint, while also calling into question the validity of such an approach to taxation from a broader societal view, thereby contributing to a new area of research within the Anthropology of Taxation.
This chapter examines Karl Polanyi's critique of formalism in economics and his case for a more institutional economics based upon a reconstitution of the facts of…
This chapter examines Karl Polanyi's critique of formalism in economics and his case for a more institutional economics based upon a reconstitution of the facts of economic life on as wide an historical basis as possible. The argument below reviews Polanyi's argument with regard to the relation between economic anthropology and comparative economics, the contrast between the formalist and substantive approaches to economic analysis, the notion of an economistic fallacy, the most important limitations of the conventional formalist economics approach, and the nature and import of the new departure that Polanyi envisioned.
In this chapter I describe and analyze the decisions and strategies made by marketplace vendors in Challapata, Oruro, Bolivia, by presenting four detailed case studies. I…
In this chapter I describe and analyze the decisions and strategies made by marketplace vendors in Challapata, Oruro, Bolivia, by presenting four detailed case studies. I demonstrate that rather than trying to simply gain a profit in order to accumulate capital, a variety of goals and objectives underlie the way in which vendors operate their businesses. These numerous goals and objectives can be recognized when vendors’ businesses are comprehended as one aspect of household maintenance activities. I conclude that when viewed from this perspective, vendors’ decisions and strategies can be understood to be shaped by moral and social obligations as well as by the rationality of the market.
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.
Purpose – To use insights from economic sociology to analyze how U.S. employment law understands and regulates the relationship between prison labor and conventional…
Purpose – To use insights from economic sociology to analyze how U.S. employment law understands and regulates the relationship between prison labor and conventional employment.
Methodology – Legal analysis of all published court opinions deciding whether federal employment laws such as the minimum wage apply to prison labor.
Findings – Courts decide whether prison labor is an “employment relationship” by deciding whether it is an “economic” relationship. Most interpret prison labor as noneconomic because they locate it in a nonmarket sphere of penal relationships. A minority of courts use a different conception of the economy, one which interprets prison labor as a form of nonmarket work.
Implications – The economic character of prison labor may be articulated using the same theoretical perspectives and analytical techniques developed to analyze family labor as economically significant nonmarket work. Doing so, however, too readily accepts the market/nonmarket distinction. Given the thoroughly social character of market work, prison labor's highly structured, institutionally specific character does not preclude characterizing it as market work, and some of its features support interpreting it as such.
In this legal context, identifying practices as economic or not, and as market or not, has concrete consequences for the actors themselves. Rather than using market/nonmarket distinctions as analytical tools, scholars might treat actors' designation of an economic practice as part of a market or not as a site of conflict, subject to institutionalization, and worthy of sociological study.
Purpose – The authors introduce the chapters of Engaging with Capitalism with a discussion of anthropological and other social theory about peoples’ approaches to capitalism, especially peoples with vibrant noncapitalist social systems, such as are found in Oceania.Approach – The introduction is in the form of a review of anthropological and other social theory about interactions between capitalism and noncapitalist social systems.Findings – The theoretical literature has tended to dichotomize capitalist and noncapitalist societies. While heuristically it is useful to contrast capitalist and noncapitalist social systems, in practice once societies come into the orbit of capitalism people adapt elements of capitalism to suit their aims. Furthermore, societies generally considered thoroughly capitalist also include noncapitalist features. So it is more accurate to think of societies as involving a mix of capitalism and noncapitalism, and the nature of that mix is part of what makes each society distinct.Social implications – The theoretical dichotomization of societies as capitalist or not, with capitalism understood as being universal, and noncapitalism understood in general terms such as gift economy, is prevalent in public imaginaries. Domestic social policy and international development assistance are often based on this dualistic understanding. Such programs could work better if they were based instead on an understanding that each group of people has a dynamic economic system, which includes capitalist and noncapitalist elements that interact in ways influenced by their history and locality.Value of paper – The chapter provides a conceptual scaffold for thinking about the ways people engage with capitalism.