Chapter 1: Introducing economic anthropology
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This chapter describes the approach to economy in this collection. The approach is empirical, based on events in the world rather than on logic and deduction. Also, it is naturalistic, dealing with events as they occur naturally rather than in experiments. The dominant technique is field work, which has advantages and disadvantages. The intellectual focus is economic activity, which has two important meanings. One, which Karl Polanyi called formalist, is central to the discipline of economics. That sees economic activity in terms of the decisions that individuals make as they allocate their limited resources among alternative things that could satisfy their desires. The other, which Polanyi called substantivist, sees economic activity in terms of the practices and relationships involved in the ways that a set of people secure the means necessary for their existence. Economic anthropologists generally are substantivists.