Many contemporary approaches to economics downplay or bracket the importance of culture in the workings of economic systems. In this class we will focus on approaches to distribution and exchange in which culture and social institutions figure prominently, if not pre-eminently. We will sample a diverse array of economies, from gift exchange to the ceremonial destruction of wealth, from Melanesia to Wall Street, in order to evaluate some of the assumptions that undergird market capitalism. These assumptions include the perception of market actors exclusively as calculative, maximizing individuals. Topics to be covered include the Industrial Revolution; utilitarianism; economic anthropology; the formal vs. substantivist debates; ethnography of finance, and Marxist sociology.
Course Attributes: UC CD