Stephen Gudeman

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Stephen Gudeman is an anthropologist.


The Anthropology of Economy: Community, Market, and Culture (2001)[edit]

  • Economic practices and relationships are constituted within the two realms of market and community, and the four value domains that I term the base, social relationships, trade, and accumulation. The salience of these domains and realms varies across societies and historically, and the terrain is contested and changed, but economic practices are always situated in a value context.
    • Chap. 1 : Community, Market, and Culture
  • The base may have community value - as a symbol of identity, an expression of values, or a source of material sustenance such as a dam or reservoir - and it may be used for market purposes. But the commons, as a part of community, has as a superordinate value the good of all taken as a whole over the good of an individual. When evaluating individual use rights, the overriding criterion is the effect on community.
    • Chap. 2 : Economy at the Base
  • The base in a system of social value is the counterpart of capital in a system of commercial value. But differing in qualities and different in their uses, many parts of the base have no common measure, unlike capital, all parts of which are measured by money and deemed commensurate in exchange. A key feature of competitive, market capitalism is making profits and accumulating them as capital, whereas the central process in community is making and sustaining a commons. But like capital, a base is a savings against contingency. Indeed, savings often have a Janus-faced appearance.
    • Chap. 2 : Economy at the Base
  • Making and keeping the base is a central concern in community, for the base makes a community as it is made. An endowment that welds together people and things, the base is passed across generations and provides the beginning for its legatees.
    • Chap. 2 : Economy at the Base
  • Our own practices - dispersed and fragmented - illustrate the pull of keeping sacra and maintaining community identity, and they challenge standard theory as well.
    • Chap. 2 : Economy at the Base
  • In a market people exchange goods, buying and selling at the best price available until satisfied they cannot better their personal holdings. Exchanges in community are different, for they revolve about ways of dividing a shared base, are guided by multiple values, and have to do with fashioning identities as well as material life. Ethnographic illustrations of sharing the base possess the virtue of openly displaying these general processes, for the same activities often are more hidden in industrial economies.
    • Chap. 3 : Sharing the Base
  • Although modern economy seems devoid of allotment practices, and prevailing ideology obscures their presence, we do practice them in many arenas. For example, in the domestic sphere, age cycle events are marked by apportionments.
    • Chap. 3 : Sharing the Base
  • The model of economy with multiple and interwoven sources makes us less certain of our own system and induces a greater understanding of others. I cannot picture an economic finality or utopia, given the cultural legacies that make variant arrangements fitting, and the shifting balances that deny the possibility of stasis. This book represents a plea for openness to the values of equity, merit, and identity as well as efficiency in economy, and for openness with ourselves and others in trying new combinations of community and market that compose economy. With its historical and cross-cultural perspective, the anthropology of economy offers tools for undertaking these conversations and imagining such other outcomes.
    • Chap. 9 : Political Economy Today