Stone Age Economics

3773 Words Mar 4th, 2014 16 Pages
“If economics is the dismal science, the study of hunting and gathering economies must be its most advanced branch” (Sahlins 1972: 1). Stone Age Economics is one of the well-known books in the subfield of economic anthropology provided by an American cultural anthropologist, Marshall Sahlins. This book is a slight representation in the literature dealing with ‘primitive’ or ‘tribal’ economic life. This book consists of a series of chapters that lacks a proper conclusion of Sahlins discoveries. In context it is comprehensive and adherent, manifesting as it does ethnography, social theories, Marxian, Neoclassical and ‘Substantivist’ economics, interpretations, and incisive logic sometimes applied in support of debatable notions. It is a …show more content…
For example, hunter-gatherer societies may seem poor because the people have few possessions, but in fact these societies enjoy a kind of material plenty just by attributes of being unlimited by things that interfere with their mobility. Traditionally, people who subsisted from their land can easily pack up and move to a richer area when needed. Many hunter-gatherer societies also used the technique of slash-and-burn to create fields for agriculture. Certainly, to the extent that poverty is a social status and a matter of wanting more than one has, hunter-gatherers have far less poverty than do the unequaled societies of advanced modern civilization. Their culture leads them to share scarce resources rather than possessing of consuming them individually like a hunter-gatherer society does. These hunter-gatherer societies are what Sahlins refers to as the original affluent societies. Sahlins challenged the popular view of hunter-gatherer societies.
Original Affluent Society The original affluent society is a theory that hunter-gatherers were the original affluent society. This theory was introduced by Sahlins and was argued that hunter-gatherer societies are able to achieve affluence by desiring little and meeting their needs with what is available to them. Sahlins referenced this to the “Zen road to affluence, which states that human material wants are finite and few, and technical means unchanging but on the whole
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