Economics and Morality: Anthropological Approaches

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In Economics and Morality, the authors seek to illuminate the multiple kinds of analyses relating morality and economic behavior in particular kinds of economic systems. The chapters explore economic systems from a variety of diverse indigenous and capitalist societies, focusing on moral challenges in non-Western economic systems undergoing profound change, grassroots movements and moral claims in the context of capitalism, and morality-based movements taking place within corporate and state institutions. The anthropological insights of each chapter provide the value of firsthand fieldwork and ethnographic investigation, as well as the tradition of critically studying non-Western and Western societies. Because the moral challenges in a given capitalist society can no longer be effectively addressed without considering the interaction and influences of different societies in the global system, the international ethnographic research in this book can help document and make sense of the changes sweeping our planet.

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Editorial Reviews

James G. Carrier
Economic activity involves more than rational, calculating individuals buying and selling with each other, as amply demonstrated by the essays in Economics and Morality. The breadth of this collection is impressive, ranging from exchange in Papua New Guinea, ethical consumption in the UK, and toxic waste in the U.S. to stocks and shares in global markets. In these cases we begin to see the morality of economy, the ways in which values, relationships, and economic actions reflect and shape each other. That ghostly 'rational actor' may pervade popular and even scholarly economic thought, but this collection shows how different is the economic activity that we see around us.
Donald L. Donham
Notions of the economic and the moral have long been intertwined, but recent changes in the world and in social theory have newly problematized the interrelationship. Economics and Morality is a wide-ranging and superbly edited collection that revitalizes an anthropological tradition, making it speak to new concerns.
Richard Wilk
This is an exciting, innovative, and carefully crafted collection of papers that speak to the core issues of social and economic life. The contributions are rich and varied, and engage common issues to a degree you rarely see in an edited volume. This is one of the very best recent books in economic anthropology – fascinating case studies on the very cutting edge of the changing global economy.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Katherine E. Browne is professor of anthropology at Colorado State University. B. Lynne Milgram is professor of anthropology at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

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Table of Contents

Economics and Morality: Introduction

Part I. The Stakes of Morality, Reciprocity, and Change
Chapter 1. Rethinking Gifts and Commodities: Reciprocity, Recognition, and the Morality of Exchange
Chapter 2. The Grift: Getting Burned in the Northern Malagasy Sapphire Trade
Chapter 3. Maya Daykeepers: New Spiritual Clients and the Morality of Making Money

Part II. Moral Agency Inside Market Logic
Chapter 4. Extreme Gifting: The Moral Economy of a Community School
Chapter 5. "Thiefing a Chance:" Moral Meanings of Theft in a Trinidadian Garment Factory
Chapter 6. Patriotism, Profits, and Waste: The Moral Dimensions of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal in Texas
Chapter 7. Virtue at the Checkout Till: Salvation Economics in Kenyan Flower Fields

Part III. Frontiers of Social Responsibility
Chapter 8. Beyond CSR: Dilemmas and Paradoxes of Ethical Conduct in Transnational Organizations
Chapter 9. "I am the Conscience of the Company:" Responsibility and the Gift in a Transnational Mining Corporation
Chapter 10. Moral Behavior in Stock Markets: Islamic Finance and Socially Responsible Investment

Afterword: Moral Economies, Economic Moralities: Consider the Possibilities!

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