Chapter 11: Circulation and its forms
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Circulation is fundamental to economic anthropology and the study of political economy, yet often is crowded out by a rubric of exchange. This chapter is organised around Karl Polanyi's typology of 'instituted process', a heuristic that remains useful today in its emphasis on circulatory forms. The chapter first explores competing anthropological explanations of circulation, in debates between substantivism, formalism and Marxist critique, and in subsequent attempts to combine and extend these approaches. It then turns to Polanyi's three forms of instituted process: reciprocity, market exchange and redistribution. By doing so, it draws out a tension in scholarship between emphasising institutionalised forms and foregrounding principles of economic life. The chapter further argues that the reciprocity-exchange (or gift-commodity) binary, common in anthropology, is substantially enriched by greater attention to the dynamics of redistribution. The chapter concludes by underlining the importance and limits of tracking circuits of value in everyday economy.

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