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a203-11f-15-Marx - Introduction to Cultural Anthropology...

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Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Class 15 An “exploitative” theory of inequality: Marxian theory Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - Example of an exploitative theory of inequality: Marxian theory - the Marxian model was not intended to be anthropological - Marx was not an anthropologist (or he was a very poor anthropologist!) - He was what was then called a “political economist” - A very broad concept that covered much of what are now social sciences: economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, history - but he used some anthropological ideas - Like an anthropologist, Marx saw society as integrated, as a system of interrelated parts that all fit together into a coherent whole - Economics, politics, social organization, ideology, even emotional well-being - all fit together as a single coherent, understandable system - to understand any one aspect, you must understand how it fits into the rest - Many of Marx’s core ideas still inform a lot of social science - often without being even credited to him, because these concepts have become so widespread - some prefer the term “Marxian” theory, to distinguish it from the Marxist political project - there is much, much more to Marxian thinking than we will cover here - means of production (of food, goods, etc.) - the land, tools, raw materials, infrastructure such as workplaces, technical knowledge, labor, and so on needed for production - social relations of production - the way people relate to each other in the context of production - power, control, cooperation, class relations, etc. - these social relations could involve - self-sufficient family farms - independent small producers who make goods for exchange - hierarchically organized factories with workers, managers, and owners - guilds with systems of master craftsmen and apprentices, etc. - mode of production - a specific combination of certain means of production and certain social relations of production - the idea is that only certain combinations of certain means and social relations work together and actually occur - Marx identified numerous modes of production - we won’t pursue them all here… - anthropologists do not accept that all of them really existed - anthropology and ethnography did not really exist in Marx’s time - so Marx based his ideas on travelers’ stories and histories, which were often naïve and inaccurate
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Intro to Cultural Anthro F 2011 / Owen: An “exploitative” theory of hierarchies - Marx p. 2 - and his own ideas of what would make sense, rather than things that were actually observed - example: kin-based mode of production - kin groups own (or control) the means of production - labor is provided as a social obligation - payment is not only unnecessary, but would be inappropriate or even insulting - as in an extended family group - or a Ju/’hoansi camp, in which everyone is seen as kin - exchange of labor and products is just one of many aspects of the web of social relations between kin - example: capitalist mode of production - capitalists own (or control) the means of production (more on this below) -
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