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The High Plains Society
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Applied Anthropology

 

COMMENTARY

A Supply of Money

David J. Rozen 

This article examines the relevance of Bronislaw Malinowksi‘s research among the Trobriand Islanders to the current economic crisis of excess unemployment. It reviews how Malinowski considered the Kula exchange of sea shells to be outside the Trobriand subsistence economy. Relying considerably on an analysis by Marvin Harris, I point to how Malinowski used a concept of culture which subsumes the entire social system, i.e., a symbolic expression ex-plains social structure and adaptation. Even though Malinowski considered the Kula ring to be without economic relevance, his ethnographic data were used by the economist Karl Polanyi to demonstrate that an economy is not independent of social structure, i.e., that the assumption of a free market is false. I argue that a psychological reductionist concept of culture can be used by the very wealthy to rationalize opposition to Keynesian fiscal and monetary economic policies which, in fact, have a good record of reducing unemployment.

The Applied Anthropologist, No. 2, Vol. 32, 2012, pp 37 - 38

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