This edition: Economic Systems
Economic systems are the means by which a society produces, distributes and consumes resources, and are intimately integrated with the other elements of the culture. In this lesson, the economic systems of several societies are examined as examples of how reciprocity, redistribution, and market exchange play a central role in the distribution of goods. The Ju/’hoansi of southern Africa exemplify foraging cultures in which food is not produced but rather collected as it is needed and distributed immediately, according to the process known as generalized reciprocity. The Yolmo of Nepal traditionally practiced pastoralism and subsistence farming, using an exchange system of balanced reciprocity combined with redistribution. A Ghanaian market run by women illustrates a traditional form of market exchange, and a Japanese fish market exemplifies the wholesale commercial market, with international participants but face-to-face transactions according to Japanese cultural practices.