Theory in Economic Anthropology (18) / Edition 1

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This new volume from the Society for Economic Anthropology examines the unique contributions of anthropologists to general economic theory. Editor Jean Ensminger and other contributors challenge our understanding of human economies in the expanding global systems of interaction, with models and analyses from cross-cultural research. They examine a broad range of theoretical concerns from the new institutionalism, debates about wealth, exchange, and the evolution of social institutions, the relationship between small producers and the wider world, the role of commodity change and the formal/informal sector, and the role of big theory. The book will be a valuable resource for anthropologists, economists, economic historians, political economists, and economic development specialists. Published in cooperation with the Society for Economic Anthropology. Visit their web page.

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Editorial Reviews

Stuart Plattner
This outstanding book demonstrates the theoretical and empirical importance of economic anthropology for the twenty-first century. Ensminger and her colleagues combine the solid empirical work that anthropology is known for with innovative theoretical trends in economics. The work on institutions and social capital and on experimental economics is most notable to me. The book foreshadows a scientific contribution in these areas that will be very significant in the next decade. It is a pleasure to read the more empirical contributions, by established as well as junior scholars, which demonstate that economic anthropology remains solidly rooted in the tradition of careful, theoretically informed ethnography. This remarkable book should be read by a wide range of scholars and students interested in knowing how economic anthropology can advance social science in the twenty-first century.
Donald W. Attwood
This book will introduce researchers in other fields to important ideas, debates, and results in economic anthropology. It will also guide further research by those already working in this field. The chapters include some fine case studies using new data to highlight significant theoretical questions, some acute warnings against pretentious and faddish theories, and some assessments of concepts and theories in various domains. The best chapters illustrate the productive interactions of new theoretical perspectives with new approaches to data collection and analysis. These chapters display the highest potential for research in the social sciences: using new approaches to formulate hypothesis-testing questions, which in turn help evaluate and modify theories. The contribution of economic anthropology to multi-disciplinary research, both 'pure' and applied, is likewise demonstrated in these chapters. The editors' introduction provides a masterful guide to the diverse themes cross-cutting through the subsequent chapters.
Sutti Ortiz
Economic anthropologists have been credited for deciphering incomprehensible behavior. Contributors to this book review critically and constructively some of these efforts and the theoretical approaches that have been used. But there is much more to this book than a glance to past accomplishments. Jean Ensminger challenges us to incorporate ideas from new institutional economics. James Acheson, in a lucid and measured presentation, summarizes the pivotal role of transactional costs. Some of these ideas as well as older propositions will open new ways of looking at evolving patterns of production and trade in a globalized world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759102064
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2002
  • Series: Society for Economic Anthropology Monograph Series, #18
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Ensminger is Professor of Anthropology at the California Institute of Technology, who carries out research in the new institutional economics, rational choice theory, experimental economics, and economic development.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Theory in Economic Anthropology at the Turn of the Century Part 2 Part I: The New Institutionalism Chapter 3 Chapter 1: Property Rights and Incentives for Agricultural Growth: Women Farmer's Crop Control and their Use of Agricultural Inputs Chapter 4 Chapter 2: Transaction Cost Economics: Accomplishments, Problems and Possibilities Chapter 5 Chapter 3: Experimental Economics: A Powerful New Method for Theory Testing in Anthropology Part 6 Part II: Rethinking Wealth, Exchange, and the Evolution of Social Institutions Chapter 7 Chapter 4: Commodity Flows and the Evolution of Complex Societies Chapter 8 Chapter 5: Economic Transfers and Exchanges: Concepts for Describing Allocations Chapter 9 Chapter 6: Polanyi and the Definition of Capitalism Part 10 Part III: Small Producers Interacting with the Wider World Chapter 10 Chapter 7: Chayanov and Theory in Economic Anthropology Chapter 11 Chapter 8: Space, Place, and Economic Anthropology: Locating Potters in a Sri Lankan Landscape Chapter 12 Chapter 9: Indians, Markets, and Transnational Studies in Mesoamerican Anthropology: Predicaments and Opportunities Chapter 14 Part IV: Commodity Chains and the Formal/Informal Sector Distinction Chapter 15 Chapter 10: Transcending the Formal/Informal Distinction: Commercial Relations in Africa and Russia in the Post-1989 World Chapter 16 Chapter 11: Commodity Chains and the International Secondhand Clothing Trade: Salaula and the Work of Consumption in Zambia Part 18 Part V: The Role for Big Theory in Economic Anthropology Chapter 19 Chapter 12: When Good Theories Go Bad: Theory in Economic Anthropology and Consumer Research Chapter 19 Chapter 13: Decision-Making, Cultural Transmission and Adaptation in Economic Anthropology

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