James G. Carrier
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.
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).