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.
The chapter reconstructs the methodological trajectory of Polly Hill. Crossing the boundaries between economics and anthropology, Hill’s work was simultaneously an…
The chapter reconstructs the methodological trajectory of Polly Hill. Crossing the boundaries between economics and anthropology, Hill’s work was simultaneously an epistemic challenge to development economics, and a testimony to the complexity and richness of economic life in what she called the “rural tropical world.” Drawing inspiration from the process that Mary Morgan referred to as “seeking parts, looking for wholes,” the chapter explores the evolving relationship between observational practice and conceptual categories in Hill’s work on West Africa and India. It is argued that fieldwork, the central element in Hill’s methodological reflection, served two main functions. Firstly, it acted as the cornerstone of her views on observation and induction, framing her understanding of the relationship between “parts” and “wholes.” Secondly, Hill used fieldwork as a narrative trope to articulate her hopeful vision for an integration of economics and anthropology, and later express her feelings of distance and alienation from the ways in which these disciplines were actually practiced.
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.
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 paper furthers the analysis of patterns regulating capitalist accumulation based on a historical anthropology of economic activities revolving around and within the…
This paper furthers the analysis of patterns regulating capitalist accumulation based on a historical anthropology of economic activities revolving around and within the Mauritian Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
This paper uses fieldwork in Mauritius to interrogate and critique two important concepts in contemporary social theory – “embeddedness” and “the informal economy.” These are viewed in the wider frame of social anthropology’s engagement with (neoliberal) capitalism.
A process-oriented revision of Polanyi’s work on embeddedness and the “double movement” is proposed to help us situate EPZs within ongoing power struggles found throughout the history of capitalism. This helps us to challenge the notion of economic informality as supplied by Hart and others.
Scholars and policymakers have tended to see economic informality as a force from below, able to disrupt the legal-rational nature of capitalism as practiced from on high. Similarly, there is a view that a precapitalist embeddedness, a “human economy,” has many good things to offer. However, this paper shows that the practices of the state and multinational capitalism, in EPZs and elsewhere, exactly match the practices that are envisioned as the cure to the pitfalls of capitalism.
Value of the paper
Setting aside the formal-informal distinction in favor of a process-oriented analysis of embeddedness allows us better to understand the shifting struggles among the state, capital, and labor.
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…
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.
Do business owners hold capitalist beliefs – relative to non-business owners? Using Latinobarómetro survey in Latin America, we find that business owners tend to see the…
Do business owners hold capitalist beliefs – relative to non-business owners? Using Latinobarómetro survey in Latin America, we find that business owners tend to see the market economy as the only system by which a country can become developed. They also tend to give a lower rank to Fidel Castro, and tend to believe that sole private investment in sectors like hospitals and pensions are good for the country to develop as soon as possible. But, business owners do not see foreign capital as good in industries such as mining, electronics, household appliances, automobile, telecommunication services, and infrastructure. They also do not see foreign investment as beneficial for economic development of the country. In addition, they are less willing to adopt some new technologies.
This 30th volume of “Research in Economic Anthropology” (REA) consists of 13 original chapters focusing on various aspects of economic organization and behavior, most of which are based on empirical fieldwork conducted by the respective authors themselves. The volume has three parts. Chapters in Part I focus on development and inequalities – common and important themes in economic anthropology. Part II, in concentrating on market expansion and marketing in general, continues the theme of Part II of Volume 25 in the REA series (Wood, 2007, pp. 4–7). The final section – Part III – consists of three chapters that are concerned with economic activities and group or individual identity. The volume ends with a review by James R. Stanfield of a new book about the continuing relevance of Karl Polanyi's famous 1944 book, The Great Transformation, edited by Chris Hann and Keith Hart.