Beiträge vom 18. September 2011

From gift and credit to money — did markets make us Homo Oeconomicus?

Sonntag, 18. September 2011 13:11

Via Chris Bertram on Crooked Timber I read an article by David Graeber, a social anthropologist, called „On the Invention of Money – Notes on Sex, Adventure, Monomaniacal Sociopathy and the True Function of Economics“. It is sufficiently long to really cover all these topics, and I agree with Bertram that it is „one of the most informative and entertaining pieces I’ve read in a long while“. Do read the whole thing!

The core argument is about how money came to be — which in most economic textbooks is explained as a logical development from a barter trade system, where you have to find somebody with a complementary need and offer in the marketplace. But this assumption about our economic past is soundly refuted by actual anthropological and historical research. It is very fascinating to follow the research as to what are actual probable pathways to money usage. And how economic activities were organized before that tells us a lot about how the economic system shapes even deep-rooted human qualities. The bottom line there is that behavior in accordance with „Homo Oeconomicus“ models probably only really came about after markets were invented. And it is because economists cannot (or don’t want to) imagine a human being with different ways of decision-making that they persist on the „money developed from barter trade“ myth despite solid evidence to the contrary. This is, again, in the service of not acknowledging the own status as a „reflexive“ social science which not only describes but also strongly influences human behavior and social processes.

So, first of all, how did people go about their business before money was around?


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small thoughts 2011-09-18 (my week in twitter)

Sonntag, 18. September 2011 7:59

  • Micro-entrepreneurs move from software to hardware is the era of companies coming to an end? Long but good. Thanks Markus #
  • Average American consumes more animal products than fruit & veg of course way too much sugar, too. Cool visualization… #
  • Hälfte der Langzeitarbeitslosen hat keine abgeschlossene Berufsausbildung, 40% über 50 Jahre alt faul? #
  • Thorough feminist critique of public discourse about evolution of female orgasms Must-read for EvoPsy-fans #
  • Psychology demonstrates bisexual men exist Ouch, science can be so far from real life can’t it? #quantitativepitfalls #

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