Economics as Culture: Models and Metaphors of Livelihood - Stephen GudemanLondon, Boston & Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Good Dust Wrapper. A little rubbing to the edges of the dust wrapper with a small, closed, tear to the head of the lower panel. Text complete, clean and tight.
From the cover: “According to one commonly accepted view, the economy is a sphere of practical action subject to invariant laws of human behaviour. The theme of this book, by contrast, is that patterns of livelihood are culturally formulated in diverse ways. The author’s insights into the distinction between modern and traditional economies will .make the book fascinating reading for anthropologists and economists alike.
Stephen Gudeman presents a new perspective on models and questions whether our Western categories of knowledge are appropriate for analysing the economic patterns of other societies. He argues that economies and economic theories are social constructions, and that the central processes of making a livelihood are culturally modeled. He focuses his argument on a distinction drawn between local and universal models. A local model consists of the beliefs and practices which constitute a people’s world. Universal models assume that beneath ethnographic data there exists an objective reality which can only be grasped through an observer’s formal model.
Gudeman sees the local models of many non-Western peoples as extended metaphors: gaining a livelihood is enacted through a symbolic scheme that is taken from features of the social world, such as ancestral spirits or human motivations. By contrast, for the last two centuries, Western economic models have drawn upon abstract logical and mathematical schemes. Gudeman argues that these supposedly universal schemes are themselves local constructions. In the body of the book he presents detailed analyses and comparisons of ten models, some Western (the Physiocrats and Ricardo), some non-Western (three African tribes, the Dobu of the Pacific), and in this way develops a valuable and original anthropological perspective on the economy.”