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.

Chapter 18: One-Way Economic Transfers

Robert C. Hunt

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


Robert C. Hunt Human economies can be characterised as producing, using and allocating an enormous number of objects. In production, natural persons travel to where resources are, extract them, usually process the resources into products (tools, a butchered carcass, pots), carry some of that product back to home base and allocate some products to others. All human societies are characterised by the fact that the consumer or user of a product is not necessarily, or even usually, the producer of it. This applies to members of a household, where children and the sick are (for the moment) consuming but not producing, as well as to those who live and work in an industrial economy. Much of our thinking about economies has focused on allocation, or when, how and why products move from one person to another. Many would label this sequence of transactions ‘exchange’. Two obvious kinds of exchange are purchase and sale, and gift exchange. If by exchange we mean that there are (minimally) two parties transacting (call them A and B), then in an exchange an object X moves from A to B, and another object Y moves from B to A, and all parties concerned claim that the two moves are linked as a set. In purchase and sale, A has tomatoes for sale and B has money. Tomatoes move from A to B, money moves from B to A, and everybody agrees that the tomatoes and money are exchanged for each other. The timing of the...

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