Exchange in Anthropology

Chris Gregory

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


    The terms gift or reciprocal exchange are used to describe the forms of exchange that anthropologists traditionally have described and analyzed. These forms of exchange coexist with market exchanges such as barter, buying and selling, and money lending. Exchanges of the latter type have been the traditional concern of economists but anthropologists have also produced detailed ethnographic descriptions of markets, especially the periodic market systems found in rural areas around the world. There has been much debate in the anthropological literature about the defining characteristics of gift exchange systems, how they are distinguished from commodity exchanges, and of the manner in which they articulate with the market exchanges both locally and globally. This article focuses on nonmarket exchanges and consists of four parts: the first examines exchange as a general concept and defines some key terms; the second looks briefly at the history of anthropological theories on the subject; the third presents some illustrative examples; and the fourth examines some attempts to understand the historical transformation of gift exchange systems in the context of globalization.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2001)
    EditorsNeil J Smelser, Paul B Baltes
    Place of PublicationOxford
    ISBN (Print)0-08-043076-2 (set)
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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