GEERTZ BAZAAR PDF

Skip to search form Skip to main content You are currently offline. Some features of the site may not work correctly. There have been a number of points at which anthropology and economics have come to confront one another over the last several decades-development theory; preindustrial history; colonial domination. Here I want to discuss another where the interchange between the two disciplines may grow even more intimate; one where they may come actually to contribute to each other rather than, as has often been the case, skimming off the other's more generalized ideas and misapplying them. View PDF.

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I did not anticipate that the two would have much relevance for one another, but they do. Specifically, the description of transactions costs in a bilateral exchange. The sliding price system, accompanied by the colorful and often aggressive bargaining which seems to mark such systems everywhere, is in part simply a means of communicating economic information in an indeterminate pricing situation.

Pricing is much more a matter of estimates in a situation where highly specific comparative and historical data are simply not available; instead of exactly calculated prices, one finds the setting of broad limits within which buyer and seller explore together the finer details of the matter through a system of offer and counteroffer.

The ability to operate effectively in the gap of ignorance between a price obviously too high and one obviously too low is what makes a good market-trader: skill in bargaining—which includes as its elements a quick wit, a tireless persistence, and an instinctive shrewdness in evaluating men and material on the basis of very little evidence—is the primary professional qualification.

Even more important, however, the sliding price system tends to create a situation in which the primary competitive stress is not between seller and seller, as it is for the most part in a firm economy, but between buyer and seller.

It also describes the problem facing many entrepreneurial Javanese traders as one of organization, not market orientation. There was a time in which anthropologists and economists really could learn from one another.

Sadly, not so much anymore, given trends in both disciplines. Share this: Click to share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Click to share on Tumblr Opens in new window Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window.

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The Bazaar Economy: Information and Search in Peasant Marketing

I did not anticipate that the two would have much relevance for one another, but they do. Specifically, the description of transactions costs in a bilateral exchange. The sliding price system, accompanied by the colorful and often aggressive bargaining which seems to mark such systems everywhere, is in part simply a means of communicating economic information in an indeterminate pricing situation. Pricing is much more a matter of estimates in a situation where highly specific comparative and historical data are simply not available; instead of exactly calculated prices, one finds the setting of broad limits within which buyer and seller explore together the finer details of the matter through a system of offer and counteroffer. The ability to operate effectively in the gap of ignorance between a price obviously too high and one obviously too low is what makes a good market-trader: skill in bargaining—which includes as its elements a quick wit, a tireless persistence, and an instinctive shrewdness in evaluating men and material on the basis of very little evidence—is the primary professional qualification. Even more important, however, the sliding price system tends to create a situation in which the primary competitive stress is not between seller and seller, as it is for the most part in a firm economy, but between buyer and seller. It also describes the problem facing many entrepreneurial Javanese traders as one of organization, not market orientation.

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In economics textbooks, for the most part, there is only one sort of market where buyers and sellers interact and where prices adjust to equate supply and demand. One was the economic history of the classical world. The famous classical scholar Moses Finley, for example, used a substantivist approach in his seminal book The Ancient Economy. Though the classical world certainly had trade and markets, Finley denied that they were like modern markets in the way they worked or in the way people behaved. One of the seminal examples which motivates this approach is the study by Bronislaw Malinowski of the economy of the Trobriand Islands around the time of the First World War in Argonauts of the Western Pacific.

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Geertz, Clifford. The bazaar economy this one of a city in Morroco does follow the maxims of formal economics -- everyone wants to buy cheap and sell dear, price relates supply and demand, etc. But the principles that govern the organization of economic life. In the bazaar information is poor, scarce, maldistributed, inefficiently communicated, and intensely valued.

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