Economies across Cultures: Towards a Comparative Science of by Rhoda H. Halperin

By Rhoda H. Halperin

A learn containing a mix of idea, ethnography and background, focusing upon severe problems with fiscal association and alter. Labour association, land tenure and the department of labour by means of age and intercourse are taken care of within the context of either functional and theoretical difficulties.

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Readers of Polanyi have often projected their own disciplinary biases upon his work. Anthropologists of functional persuasion have projected British functionalism upon Polanyi's framework (Bohannan and Bohannan, 1968). Historians have read hirn as a humanist, and to some extent a romanticist (Humphreys, 1969). Polanyi also had a tendency to be inconsistent in his definition of key concepts: he often contradicated hirnself in the same work. His writing is abstract, often to the point of incoherence and incomprehensibility.

For example, in The Great Transformation (1944), he began by writing about The Institutional Paradigm 31 'institution al patterns', changed the term to 'institutional arrangements' in the same work, and then in Trade and Market wrote of 'instituted process' (1957b). These characteristics render Polanyi extremely difficult to read, and even more difficult to understand, in such a way that his concepts can be applied scientifically. THE INSTITUTIONAL PARADIGM The institutional paradigm, as it is most commonly employed today in economic anthropology, probably originated with Marx, even where his contribution is unacknowledged or even unknown.

Institutions are devices, but they cannot be seen. They exist analytically and must be defined as such. For instance, private property is an example of wh at I am calling an institution. Law students in the United States are required to take an entire course on Property, which is, precisely, about how the organisation al principle of private property can be applied to concrete situations. To take another example: if an archaeologist recovers identical artefact assemblages, say, stone tools in two geographically distinct locations separated by 60 km, there are a variety of mechanisms that logically could be postulated to describe, and eventually 32 Economies across Cultures explain, the relationships between the two sites.

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