Daily Archives: October 16, 2021

Stone Age Economics (Routledge Classics): Marshall Sahlins, Graeber, David Graeber

Since its first publication over forty years ago Marshall Sahlins’s Stone Age Economics has established itself as a classic of modern anthropology and arguably one of the founding works of anthropological economics. Ambitiously tackling the nature of economic life and how to study it comparatively, Sahlins radically revises traditional views of the hunter-gatherer and so-called primitive societies, revealing them to be the original “affluent society.”

Sahlins examines notions of production, distribution and exchange in early communities and examines the link between economics and cultural and social factors. A radical study of tribal economies, domestic production for livelihood, and of the submission of domestic production to the material and political demands of society at large, Stone Age Economics regards the economy as a category of culture rather than behaviour, in a class with politics and religion rather than rationality or prudence. Sahlins concludes, controversially, that the experiences of those living in subsistence economies may actually have been better, healthier and more fulfilled than the millions enjoying the affluence and luxury afforded by the economics of modern industrialisation and agriculture.

Reviews

“Sahlins’ forays into economic anthropology are full of interest.” Cyril S. Belshaw, American Anthropologist

Stone Age Economics, while not a survey of the economic anthropology, is as of now the most sophisticated, extensive presentation, and argument in and about, the field.” Walter C. Neale, Science

“This book is subversive to so many of the fundamental assumptions of Western technological society that it is a wonder it was permitted to be published. Calling on extensive research among the planet’s remaining stone-age societies―in Africa, Australia and South-East Asia as well as anecdotal reports from early explorers, Professor Sahlins directly challenges the idea that Western civilization has provided greater ‘leisure’ or ‘affluence,’ or even greater reliability, than ‘primitive’ hunter-gatherers.” Whole Earth Review

“His book is rich in factual evidence and in ideas, so rich that a brief review cannot do it justice; only another book could do that.” E. Evans-Pritchard, Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Marshall Sahlins is Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Routledge; 1st edition (April 20, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 376 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1138702617
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1138702615
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 1310L
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 15.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.43 x 0.85 x 8.5 inches