Hunter-Gatherer Societies from Different Views

Topics: Economy, Marshall Sahlins, Original affluent society Pages: 3 (895 words) Published: October 11, 2010
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Hunter-Gatherer Societies From Different Views

Before comparing and contrasting the attitudes of the scholars July, Cameron, Sahlins and Polanyi towards hunter-gatherer societies, one should discover some facts about these societies’ lives. Hunter-gatherers are the people living in small mobile societies who makes their life on subsistence level by daily hunting and gathering activities. They try to avoid market and do not tend to trade for economic benefits. The economic activites they do, seem to be embedded into the social interactions. They basicly depend on reciprocity, redistribution and householding. In his work, “The Original Affluent Society” in “Stone Age Economics”(1974) –which is written as a counter to J.K. Galbraith’s “The Affluent Society”(1958)- Marshall David Sahlins opposes the idea of hunter-gatherers being primitive. Sahlin and Galbraith fall apart in the way they think of affluence. According to him, hunter-gatherers are affluent in their own way which he introduces as the “Zen Road”, meaning that the material wants are limited and the technical means to meet them are adequate; while the scarcity and industrial activity is emphasized in the Galbraithian Way. Sahlins explains the misconception about the life of hunter-gatherer and briefly lists the sources of the misconception that stem from western ethnocentrism. For him, the hunter-gatherers can be named as the “uneconomic man” to explain these misconceptions. “[The uneconomic man’s] wants are scarce and his means are (in relation) plentiful. Consequently, he is ‘comparatively free of material pressures,’ has ‘no sense of posession,’ shows ‘an undeveloped sense of property,’ is ‘completely indifferent to any material pressures,’ manifests a ‘lack of interest’ in developing his technological equipment”(Sahlins,1974). In hunter-gatherers’ life, the sense of “prodigality” comes from the contradiction between the mobility and the sense of...
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