The problem addressed in the paper is that professional trade does not appear on the horizon of the national innovation system in Norway. Everyday trade in everyday goods, retailing, appears as a white spot on an otherwise fairly comprehensive map of the economic process. An ethnographic account would render a view of it as a terrain teeming with life and activity and depending on innovations to play the role it does in the national economy. In line with basic approaches in economic anthropology, I explore three sets of conditions that contribute to generate this particular white spot – the rationality of economic theory, the priorities of institutions in the political economy and a classificatory schema in which professional trade is categorically ‘matter out of place’. The innovation system is portrayed as reproducing a certain reality, ‘vicious cycle of “reality”’, and the concluding discussion is about how the grounded and experimental anthropological approach makes it possible to dismantle and explore such certainty.
Some reflections on the contribution of economic anthropology
Chris A. Gregory
Peebles, in a recent review of the anthropology of debt and credit, found an ‘astonishing consistency’ in the moral valuation of credit which is everywhere given a positive evaluation relative to debt. But why is this? Does it apply to creditors as well? What are the theoretical implications of these questions for economic anthropology?
Temporal Modalities and Relational Practices of ‘Getting By’ in the Greek Economic Crisis
: Polity Press . Gregory , C.A. 2012 . On Money Debt and Morality: Some Reflections on the Contribution of Economic Anthropology . Social Anthropology 20 ( 4 ): 380 – 96 . 10.1111/j.1469-8676.2012.00225.x Guyer , J.I. 2007 . Prophecy and the
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 The socialist welfare state has been replaced by new modes of support, introduced by European Union (EU).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.
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.
Fragmented solidarities among construction workers in Nepal
Dan V. Hirslund
Despite a history of labor militancy in past decades, Nepal's large construction sector remains unorganized and lacks social protection, prompted by high levels of informality. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among construction laborers in Kathmandu, this article argues that labor subsumption to capital in the construction industry takes place through a systemization of expertise through which access to work is negotiated. I show how this “culture of informality” shapes labor relations and creates a semblance of transparency and justice in otherwise chaotic and fiercely competitive labor communities. Drawing on concepts from political and urban anthropology to probe how informality indexes forms of power, I argue that authority and status become distributed through processes of distinction and thereby extend and deepen inequalities permeating contemporary industrial relations.
contains all his important work in economic anthropology. Each chapter is teeming with ideas, and even seasoned teachers in this field will usually discover something new each time they revisit it. Looking at it again this year, I was astonished to realize
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.
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.