chapter  6
Vulnerability, Resilience and Dynamism of the Custom Economy in Melanesia
Pages 22

Traditional economic systems have persisted in many countries of the global South despite its on-going incorporation into the global capitalist system. Typically, such systems are agrarian and static, with cultivation techniques little changed over long periods of time (Duffy, 2008). Polanyi articulated that the concept of the traditional economy is one where the economic decision making is fundamentally embedded within a broader socio-political framework; distinct from the market exchanges that characterize the modern free-market economy and the ideological prescriptions of the politburo in a command economy (Polanyi, 1944). To that end, allocative decisions within a traditional economy are subordinated to cultural or religious mores with rules, traditions and obligations guiding production, exchange and distribution. Examples of such traditional economic systems abound: Rosser et al. (1999) identify that in rural India a traditional economy, based in jajmani system associated with the Hindu caste system, has persisted in the villages and countryside despite the rapid encroachment of modern market forces and India’s legacy of central planning. Rosser and Rosser (2005) identify that Islamic economics represents an important manifestation of a traditional economic system in which actors have concrete obligations to others and must conduct business in accordance with religious dictates, even at the expense of profits. Other notable religious and traditionalist views of society that have spawned non-market economic systems include Confucianism principles in East Asia, and Amish communities in North America (Rosser and Rosser, 2005).