In his book The Structure of World History (2014) Kojin Karatani has argued that too little attention has been paid in Marxist historiography to the issue of ‘exchange’. In a number of Shakespearean texts ‘exchange’ and ‘reciprocity’ are of vital importance in sustaining social cohesion; in Romeo and Juliet, for example, radical disruptions of patterns of reciprocity and exchange expose an ambivalence that, in certain critical circumstances, inheres in language itself. The disruption that results from the perversion of these values is felt at every level of the social order, but particularly in the sphere of the ‘economic’, where money and trade become metaphors for the disturbance of the relation between language and action, word and object. This disruption is represented as a product of ‘nature’ but it also becomes a feature of a historically over-determined human psychology, and leads to a critical examination of different forms of government and social organization.
This paper examines the prospects for social justice in a democratic community that is justified through the idea of contractual exchange as a cooperative scheme for mutual advantage. Common assumptions concerning the narrow institutional range of the mutual advantage framework are argued against, clearing away certain tensions between exchange and markets and equality and the welfare state. However, it is maintained that the principle of equality must further condition institutional formation beyond efficiency to satisfy the requirements of social justice. It is further advanced that the interest-based motivation in the idea of efficient exchange can be maintained in an egalitarian framework, when the shared interests and expectations of citizenship constitute an equal political baseline, from which universal social entitlement can be justified.
A Scottish Leitmotiv
The global economy is battling financial crisis and recession on an unprecedented scale. Reisman's book Democracy and Exchange reviews the contributions of a number of thinkers including Adam Smith and Joseph Schumpeter to the task of making ordinary people feel tolerably happy with the outcomes that affect their lives. The article argues that although Smith is viewed as the principal figure in the Scottish political economy tradition, there are other writers, notably John Rae whose ideas may have more contemporary relevance than those of Smith. A return to the ideas of Rae and Schumpeter, particularly on fiscal policy, may provide important insights into the financial crisis.
Winter Sleep is the latest film from Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a Turkish director and screenwriter who has received international acclaim. For the purpose of social and cultural analysis, this article critically focuses on the film’s key themes and maneuvers that have diagnostic value from a social theoretical viewpoint. These themes are religion, the relationship between religion and capitalism, and symbolic exchange. Organized around these topics, the article examines the religion-capitalism-symbolic exchange nexus by analyzing the motifs of formation, intervention, and intelligibility as these themes arise. This site of intersection is the conceptual pivot around which the article configures itself. It explores Winter Sleep based on what the film shows and says on screen, how its thought processes emerge, and at what points this thought supports or conflicts with dominant societal opinions.
All communities of practice must face questions relating to the material economic foundations of future sustainable societies. David Graeber, Karl Polanyi and Karl Marx each have produced typologies of possible types of economy, synthesised as: (1) the principle of individual reciprocity, (2) the market principle of capitalism, and (3) the planning principle of the state. I apply this synthesis to recent proposals for community change advanced by Bill McKibben and David Korten concerning economic scale and the re-localising of production and consumption sundered by globalisation, focused on the local exchange and trading system (LETS). The operationalising of LETS draws upon Adam Smith’s view of markets as face-to-face exchanges of goods taking place in small morality-bound communities. Smith, McKibben and Korten conflate two different meanings of the term ‘exchange’. To understand the role LETS may play in future sustainable economies in communities of practice demands treatment of this problem.
Utilisation of Working Animals (and Women) in Ancient Mesopotamia and Modern Africa
Modern sub-Saharan African studies on the recent adoption and impact of working-animal use provide valuable ethnographic insights for archaeologists into early exploitation of this new resource in antiquity. The systematic use of working cattle and (often forgotten in models) of donkeys constituted a key factor in the burgeoning of complex societies in fourth- and third-millennium BC Mesopotamia. Modern analogy indicates that models should include the economic importance of year-round utilisation of working animals and strategies for achieving this, including user training and animal hiring and lending. Another key finding is that the situation of women, commonly culturally constrained worldwide from handling cattle, is greatly ameliorated by the availability of donkeys, which can empower them in terms of income and status.
Making a Science of the Relation between Bolivip and Barth
This article proposes a theory of what knowledge is and a method of how knowledge comes about. To separate epistemology from knowledge provides the starting point for questioning epistemology in two ways. Firstly, the analytical relations by which anthropologists claim that they have gained ethnographic knowledge are examined and compared to the claims to knowledge made by male initiates in Bolivip, Papua New Guinea. Secondly, these aesthetics of epistemology are compared with the social relations by which anthropologists and Bolivip men come to know through other persons. The article then takes up Wagner's 'relative objectivity' and considers how it enables an ethnographic comparative method between Bolivip and Barth's interpretive paradigm of 'secrecy'. Having unhinged epistemology from knowledge, the article closes by reconnecting them, with a different view of each appearing as a result.
Lotta Björklund Larsen
Hiring home cleaning is a contested phenomenon in Sweden and increasingly so when informally recompensed. During the last decade, pigdebatten (the maid debate), a proposal for subsidized, paid home cleaning has divided the public debate along political lines as well as in terms of gender and class. Drawing on the historical notions of what type of work an economy includes (and excludes), this article addresses the contestation of paid home cleaning as a transaction of work. How do buyers negotiate and justify svart (black market) cleaning as an acceptable transaction in time and space when separating the public from the private? This case study is based on interviews with a group of women indicted for having bought cleaning services from an immigrant without a working permit, a case that created a heated media debate in 2003 and 2004.
Feminism for History
Susan Rubin Suleiman
Since Aspasia’s home is in Budapest, I will begin by evoking my love affair with that city. But ‘love affair’ is not exactly the right phrase, for my affective ties to Budapest are more of the familial than the erotic variety: born and raised there until the age of ten, I am a daughter of the captivating lady on the Danube. Budapest, in my imagining, is female, perhaps because it is so closely associated with my mother; not for nothing did I subtitle my book Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook.
Permanence et changements d'une génération à l'autre
It is the marriage records - from 1920 and later - of modest, working-class people living ordinary lives in Ispahan, Iran, that form the basis of this study. Not one of the various transactions engaged by (and for) marriage is properly intelligible within a social context if considered outside of the family. Nor are insights into matrimonial practices possible without a proper assessment of the hierarchy of events surrounding the marriage and the social processes and domestic groups concerned. For this reason we are led to place a certain number of marriages within the social and historical contexts that produced them from 1920 to 2008.