lecture_5_2 - 21A.100 Prof. Howe Exchange 1. In...

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21A.100 Prof. Howe Exchange 1. In Anthropology some insights have come from observing simpler societies and then applying what we learn to our own society a. There are some things in our society that we take for granted that are of very recent origin: i. Social Security ii. Corporations iii. Money b. How are the functions that these institutions perform accomplished in societies that don’t have such institutions? i. One answer is that everyone provided enough for themselves and so they don’t need to share or trade. ii. But no matter how self-sufficient people are, no one person can do it by themselves. 2. Another Answer: The “barter” system – It was suggested that “barter” preceded money and market exchanges in social evolution. a. Barter doesn’t involve money b. Still governed by equivalents: 1 donkey = 300 ears of corn c. In this system, everyone is trying to get the best deal possible d. You can barter with strangers as well as with people you know e. System similar to barter: “silent trade” i. If you want to barter with someone you would otherwise fight against, you would put out your item for barter in an agreed upon place and come back the next day to see if someone had taken your item and left something in return. f. But barter doesn’t really describe what’s going on. 3. New way of thinking: Marcel Mauss’ short essay on “The Gift” a. 1920’s- Mauss was part of a group who called themselves Sociologist, but they looked at many different cultures
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b. Colleague of Emile Durkhiem c. Would read many field studies of cultures around the world and rethink their meaning d. Paradox: Mauss was a very sloppy scholar (poor referencing, incorrect facts) and yet he presented very interesting ideas that opened many people’s eyes to a new way of conceiving exchange. e. Mauss suggested that in simple societie, much of the economy goes through no-market exchanges. These can be called “gifts” except that many of our assumptions about gifts are false f. The more people thought about Mauss’ essay, the more they saw examples of “gift” exchange in many different societies. i. Realized that exchange is one of the fundamental characteristics of human society. It’s a basic form of human organization. ii.
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This note was uploaded on 11/06/2011 for the course ANTHR 100 taught by Professor Howe during the Fall '09 term at MIT.

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lecture_5_2 - 21A.100 Prof. Howe Exchange 1. In...

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