Comment on "The Meaning of Anthropology for Economic Science: A Case for Intellectual Reciprocity." (Notes and Communications)
Schaniel, William C., Neale, Walter C., Journal of Economic Issues
We applaud the premises and purpose of Professor Hamilton's December 1991 article: that the discipline of economics, and most notably institutional economics, should adopt the methods and attitudes as well as the data and analyses of anthropology into our perspectives on economic activity--that economics should be as sensitive to the folkviews and mythmaking of our own culture as anthropologists and others are to the folkviews of other peoples. It is therefore with some reluctance that we, as institutionalists in the Karl Polanyi tradition, express three disagreements with Hamilton's presentation.
Our first disagreement is with Hamilton's interpretation of Karl Polanyi's forms of integration and, in particular, with the meaning that be attaches to reciprocity: contrary to Hamilton's use, the forms of integration have no cultural or motivational content; rather, they are ways that analysts can map flows of goods. The forms of integration "map" the flows of goods among people and social units by describing or representing the physical and/or appropriational movement of goods, but they say nothing about the rules and folkviews that result in or give meaning to that pattern. For example, reciprocity describes both (1) the movement of expensive Christmas gifts from parents to children and of home-made Christmas gifts from children to parents and (2) gifts of treasure by Homeric warriors; the cultural contexts and social consequences of the two are entirely different. Thus, reciprocity as a form of integration is not a principle but a form or pattern. A diagram with arrows to indicate the movement of goods between parties may serve to illustrate "mapping" (see Figure 1).
Our second disagreement is with his interpretation of Polanyi's discussion of Speenhamland. Speenhamland, far from being the origin of the self-regulating market--or an end to the applicability of ethnographic method--as Hamilton argues, was the last major effort to keep the labor market embedded in other social relationships. Our final disagreement is about some views ascribed to Polanyi and the "Polanyi Group" [p. 942]. Hamilton asserts that people in the Polanyi tradition treat industrial as synonymous with market [p. 944]; here Hamilton appears to think that Polanyi and those who follow him confuse a form of integration (market) with …
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Publication information: Article title: Comment on "The Meaning of Anthropology for Economic Science: A Case for Intellectual Reciprocity." (Notes and Communications). Contributors: Schaniel, William C. - Author, Neale, Walter C. - Author. Journal title: Journal of Economic Issues. Volume: 28. Issue: 3 Publication date: September 1994. Page number: 884+. © 1999 Association for Evolutionary Economics. COPYRIGHT 1994 Gale Group.
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