Table of Contents

A Handbook of Economic Anthropology

A Handbook of Economic Anthropology

Elgar original reference

Edited by James G. Carrier

This unique Handbook contains substantial and invaluable summary discussions of work on economic processes and issues, and on the relationship between economic and non-economic areas of life. Furthermore it describes conceptual orientations that are important among economic anthropologists, and presents summaries of key issues in the anthropological study of economic life in different regions of the world. Its scope and accessibility make it useful both to those who are interested in a particular topic and to those who want to see the breadth and fruitfulness of an anthropological study of economics.


James G. Carrier

Subjects: economics and finance, behavioural and experimental economics, economic psychology, methodology of economics, social policy and sociology, research methods in social policy, sociology and sociological theory


21/2/05 9:38 AM Page 1 Introduction James G. Carrier This is a handbook. So, it is not something that lays out a coherent argument in an extended form. Rather, it is a set of chapters that cover economicanthropological work on specific topics and in specific regions of the world. At the same time, however, these chapters all revolve around economic anthropology. It seems appropriate, then, to include in this introduction to the whole a presentation of what I think economic anthropology is, if only because this thinking has shaped the organisation of this handbook. Because this work is oriented to those unfamiliar with economic anthropology, and perhaps unfamiliar with anthropology, that presentation will cover some material that may seem common sense to those familiar with the sub-discipline or the discipline as a whole. Those who are not novices may want to skip the opening section of this Introduction and go to the section titled ‘Approaching economic life’. Those wholly familiar with the field may want to skip to the final section of this Introduction, which explains the orientation of this work. Economy anthropologically At the most basic, economic anthropology is the description and analysis of economic life, using an anthropological perspective. This is self-evident and not very helpful, so I want to explain briefly what ‘anthropological perspective’ and ‘economic life’ mean. What I write here is only a sketch of the terrain revealed more fully in the chapters in this handbook, and as these chapters show, different sub-parts of...