Economic Anthropology

Topics: Anthropology, Economics, Sociology Pages: 3 (988 words) Published: May 3, 2011
This paper will briefly describe the meaning of anthropology and its scope. And closer examine principles that govern production, distribution and consumption in horticultural and peasant communities. Anthropology is the study of man. But economic anthropology corresponds to one of fields of anthropology which is known as ‘cultural anthropology’ – the study of human culture and behavior across cultures. It describes and explains human condition across all cultures and times. Economic anthropology is the study of the economic aspects of cultures. This subfield of cultural anthropology examines the relationships between systems of production, distribution and the socio-cultural matrix in which economic life is embedded. Thus placing economic structures such as markets, commodities, money and others within a cultural context by paying particular attention to the ways in which various factors, for example, relations of power, kinship, gender, ecological factors and others, affect the structure and organization of economic institutions, decisions and behavior. To study this, economic anthropologists usually observe the people they study or their artifacts for extended periods of time through fieldwork. Moreover usually it is “participant observation”, which means that anthropologists live in the local community and are involved in activities. Most of information is generated by conversations, interviews and observations. Economic anthropology proves that economic sphere of behavior is not separate from social, religious and political spheres. In fact, it has wider scope than most industrialized societies. Economic anthropologists emphasize that economic behavior and institutions shouldn’t be analyzed only in terms of economic parameters, otherwise it merely ignores the relevant non-economic parameters. They focus on economic activities at the micro-level, like microeconomics, because it looks at the smaller picture and focuses more on basic theories and individuals....
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