chapter
Fieldwork
Pages 3

Humans gain their livelihood in many ways: through †agriculture, *pastoralism, *fishing, *hunt-ing and gathering and industrial production. *Ethnographers gather information about these and other economic features through intensive observation, through lengthy conversations and by using a variety of sampling techniques to secure quantitative data. They have been especially alert to how people are recruited and rewarded for their work, to the *gender division of labour, and to the ways that burdens and rewards for women shift as the market expands into new areas. Since the early studies of †Mauss ([1925] 1990) and *Malinowski (1922), *exchange has also been of special interest to anthropologists who have explored how transactions may range from pure gifting to obligated gifting to barter, theft and market trade; this research in turn has stimulated studies on *consumption and display. Economic anthropologists have examined as well the many ways that resources are distributed, goods are allocated, and political regimes are supported. Early on, this led to lengthy discussions concerning the conditions under which a surplus is produced in society, who secures it, and how it may be measured in non-monetary contexts. More broadly, economic anthropologists focus on the ties between material life and *power, ranging from gender control of *food in *households to financial control of monopolies in *capitalist markets. Much ethnographic data defies our common sense categories, however: for example, today farmers on marginal land may work the earth with wooden implements and seed potatoes for home consumption, while listening to tapes on headphones.