Compare and Contrast Nurit Bird-David's and Kaplan's Different Takes on Marshall Sahlin's Theory of the Original Affluent Society & Argue Which View You Think Is Most Convincing.
1426 Words6 Pages
In Stone Age Economics, Marshall Sahlins offered cross-cultural interpretations of various economic practices. The most powerful argument in the opus concerned the economic behaviour of hunter-gatherers. It was a general anthropological assumption that hunter-gatherers were pre-occupied only with the quest for food and lived on the edge of starvation. However, in his book, Sahlins used anthropological field studies which revealed that contemporary hunter-gatherer societies not only have an adequate diet, but enjoy much more leisure time than supposedly more advanced agricultural peoples. Sahlins concluded that prehistoric hunter-gatherer communities were the “original affluent society.” The term did not go unnoticed amongst the scholars.…show more content… “As a result […] he provoked a theory of abundance with cost (owing to ecological dictates) when he had set out to offer the opposite, a theory of affluence without abundance (owing to cultural influences)” (Bird-David 1992:28). However, according to Bird-David this problem can be sorted out and that Sahlins did “have a point” (Bird-David 1992:34).
Under the culturalist reformulation loop, Bird-David presents us the “cosmic economy of sharing” (1992:28), which she judges as being the basis of foraging societies. This same cosmic economy of sharing dictates the economic and social behaviours of the foragers. This theory implies that the hunter-gatherers have full trust in nature believing that nature will always be generous towards them and will provide them with their needs. The economy is based on the abundance postulate. Bird-David agrees with Sahlins when the later posits that hunter-gatherers have limited needs. On the other side of the coin, she does not share the view that the foragers observe the “Zen stategy” (Sahlins 1972:2) in living. Instead they pursue the sharing way to affluence. They do so in four ways: by going on, by socializing through sharing, hunting and gathering, by appropriating themselves what they see rather than looking for something they want and by praising the goodness and generosity of nature.