Formal models
Pages 13

Market models developed by economists have supplied many of the theoretical underpinnings for those anthropologists attempting to find continuities between diverse forms of trading practice in different cultures. For economists, a market is an arena of ‘perfectly competitive transactions’ between many buyers and sellers sharing complete market information (about price, quality of goods and so on); thereby an efficiency in production and distribution is achieved. Real markets only ever approximate to this ideal; nonetheless, it is a model against which actually-existing markets and practices are compared and explained.