chapter
Models, markets and communities
Pages 1

If the opposition of community and market helps to locate all economies, it also assists in placing the major models used in economic anthropology. neo-classical and Marxist ones are focused on the market; institutionalist models, of the Polanyi type, describe the opposition between the embedded economy of the community and the seemingly disembedded market, but they do not portray this as a continuing dialectic. These three models start with invariants, lay claim to universality, and are anthropocentric, for they place human actions and desires at the centre of the material world. In contrast, proponents of cultural analysis assume that folk in communities develop their own models which are local and contextually limited. Often anthropomorphic, local models draw upon familiar images to make a world that is neither mechanical nor subject to all human wants. The development of universal models is closely connected to the ascendance of modernity in the West; local models arose before and are located on the periphery of this tradition.