Economic Anthropology

James G. Carrier

£55.00  |  $75.00
ISBN 9781788212502
£16.00  |  $25.00
ISBN 9781788212519
£16.00  |  $25.00
ISBN 9781788212526
160 pages   |  210 x 148mm   |  25 February 2021


"Carrier draws on his own extensive fieldwork and a sampling of the best and brightest academic thinking, introducing a rich field with growing relevance to the struggles and experiences of today's students." – Richard Wilk, Indiana University

"In this book, James Carrier distils the key insights of this (sub-)discipline by combining classical studies with a range of contemporary investigations. Highlighting societies in which he himself has lived and carried out research, his effortless presentational style brings to life both underlying patterns and contingencies in how we choose to organize production, distribution and consumption." – Chris Hann, Director, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology


What do we mean when we talk about "the economy" and "economic activity"? How we answer that question and the tools we reach for to analyse it, shape how we study it and how we are defined as practitioners.

Conventional economic thought and talk see the economy as the sum of market transactions carried out by rational individuals deciding how to allocate their resources among the various things on offer that would satisfy their desires. Economic anthropologists see things differently. For them, the focus is the activities, relationships and systems through which objects are produced, circulate among people and ultimately are consumed, which will take different forms in different societies and, indeed, even in different parts of the same society. In this way, economic anthropology takes the rational market actors of conventional economic thought and places them in the world of people, relationships, systems, beliefs and values that begins with production and ends with consumption.

In this accessible and authoritative overview of the subdiscipline of economic anthropology, James G. Carrier brings his considerable expertise and knowledge to bear on defining and framing the field for a new generation of students in search of an inspiring and fresh way of looking at the economic world.


Introducing economic anthropology
1. Production and what is produced
2. Changing production
3. Circulation, identity, relationship and order
4. Gifts and commodities
5. Commercial circulation
6. Considering Christmas
7. Consumption and meaning
8. Consumption in context

Author Information

James G. Carrier is an Associate of the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Indiana. His recent books include Anthropologies of Class: Power, Practice, and Inequality (co-editor with Don Kalb) and After the Crisis: Anthropological Thought, Neoliberalism and the Aftermath (editor).

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