The agricultural situation in Poland has been changing significantly during the last decades. In 1989, the predictability of the communist centrally planned economy was replaced by the unexpectedness and "invisible hand" of the free market economy. The socialist welfare state has been replaced by new modes of support, introduced by European Union (EU). On the basis of fieldwork conducted between 2005 and 2008 in farming communities in eastern Poland, I focus on decision making among small-scale farmers. This article addresses decision-making processes and their sociocultural context, including the reasons for and circumstances behind decisions, and also elements of decision-making processes that tend to hinder the introduction of EU agricultural policy. In the course of adapting to new and changing realities, farmers creatively use customary ways of thinking and acting in the various decisions they have to make while running the farm. Changes of the very mechanisms of decision-making processes seem to be rather slow, however.
Transparency, debt, and the control of price in the Kathmandu land market
This article concerns the formation of price in Kathmandu’s land market. In Nepal, land has been for generations the bedrock of savings and household finance, an objectification of social status and a subject of intense political debate, up to and including the recent Maoist insurrection. In Kathmandu, however, the meaning of land has begun to change, mostly because of the rapid fluctuations in its monetary value. This article demonstrates how residents have used localized understandings of price and value formation to explain these changes, understandings that take as their reference point historical landlord-tenant relationships and not the machinations of market equilibrium. This article interrogates the notion that the market animates price, instead arguing that price can index a multitude of value formations.
Temporal Modalities and Relational Practices of ‘Getting By’ in the Greek Economic Crisis
This article investigates the temporalities of ‘getting by’ amidst the ripple effects of economic deterioration in Volos, Greece. Through the case of Kalypso and her family, I argue for a relational framework in the study of temporal practices, and then discuss the significant material relations of the family. Faced with less than half of their previous income, Kalypso runs a general budget pool via e-banking that allows her to coordinate the temporal constraints of periodic and everyday bills. The effect is a drifting apart of temporal experiences in the family as well as tensions about the future. Temporal agency is shown to reside in the modalities of social relations and in corresponding practices.
Commoditisation and Informal Relations in the Managerialist Informatisation of the Romanian Health-Care System
Sabina Stan and Valentin-Veron Toma
While informatisation has officially been hailed as a major component of the modernisation of the Romanian health-care system, this paper, based on ethnographic research in Romanian hospitals, shows that it has been mostly geared towards managerialist goals of administrative control and cost containment. Paradoxically, informal relations, which were supposed to be suppressed as a result of both informatisation and managerialist marketisation, continue to thrive in the Romanian health-care system.
Flawed 'participatory' and other poverty assessments from northern Orissa
Alan Rew and Martin Rew
The 'qualitative' pole of (Q-squared) combined methods has been defined in mainly residual ways as 'non-numerical' or 'noneconomics'. There is need, instead, for a critical social theorization of qualitative methods. Evidence from a development program for chronically poor, tribal, northern Orissa is used to examine the communicative action of 'participatory assessment' (PA). PA assumes that 'group' and 'visual' synergies can challenge the power relations that restrict communication and poor people's emancipation. The authors' ethnographies show that participants sequestered information from PA village seminars. Although well trained, the PA organizers increasingly ignored cultural context and substituted universalized techniques that produced only quantities of noncontextualized attitudes. The core PA routines therefore gave misleading results; they mistakenly replaced substantive accounts of communication in relation to lifeworlds with abstract seminar techniques. To obtain more reliable results, methods of 'embedded' economic anthropology were used instead to assess poverty.
This article argues that the moral dimensions of the term 'culture' have been under-theorized in anthropology. The argument stems from a particular reading of the Western philosophy of ethics. Based in economic anthropology, I explore how an understanding of the moral imperative can illuminate differences in processes of accumulation. After a discussion of the concept of morality in philosophy and in recent anthropology, I go on to examine the principles of altruism and reciprocal utility in the light of theories of kinship and of rational choice. I then outline an argument concerning the general form of moral reasoning. According to this argument, kinship classifications function logically to synthesize variable distributions in different societies of two interconnected principles—altruism and reciprocal utility.