economic anthropology

Timothy Earle
From The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Second Edition, 2008
Edited by Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume
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Economic anthropology is an empirical science that describes production, exchange and consumption cross-culturally. All societies have economies, but they are variable. Anthropologists evaluate the operations of individual economies and the applicability of Western theories to these cases. Some economic processes work broadly; for example, strategic decision-making, the law of competitive advantage, and calculations of transaction costs help explain many observed patterns. Human economies, however, are often structured as intertwined sectors with distinctive processes. Differences observed in productivity, specialization, institutional structure and social motivations across history and across modern societies are of theoretical significance when constructing the limits of general theory.
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How to cite this article

Earle, Timothy. "economic anthropology." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 16 January 2018 <> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.0426

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