A Handbook of Economic Anthropology
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A Handbook of Economic Anthropology

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.
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Chapter 19: Culture and Economy

Michael Blim


Michael Blim Much depends upon our values. People have values, notions of what is good or worthy and what is bad or unworthy of human life, regarding the most fundamental questions of existence. Our choices, our actions in the world, are guided by them. They are the ultimate ends against which we measure our actions (see Alexander chap. 28, Graeber chap. 27 infra). Values point towards appropriate actions. For instance, suppose we value human beings leading long, disease-free lives (however we may define this). We could then proceed to evaluate goals and courses of action in light of the degree to which they advance that which we hold dear. Some goals would be appropriate, and some would not. In this case, perhaps the goal to be rich, for instance, may be less relevant to our value of long, disease-free life than the goal of universal health care. Let us take another case. Suppose we value living without experiencing physical violence. We can then proceed to evaluate our goals. Is retaining the use of force as a foreign policy option consonant with our values? Is keeping a standing army compatible? Is the death penalty appropriate? Is corporal punishment in schools fitting? On the other hand, if we think about goals that would enhance our abilities to live in a violence-free world, we might look at courses of action that lessened the frequency and impact of violence in our lives. We might consider teaching children peaceful approaches to conflict resolution. Or we...

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