International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 311


Diverse approaches in economic anthropology: Some reflections

Suguna Pathy
Department of Sociology, Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat-395007, India.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 04 May 2009
  •  Published: 30 June 2010


Anthropology in general has colonial roots and these influences are still in existence. British colonial policy in Africa and Asia began to change in the 1930s thus, it was suddenly decided to “develop” the colonies. This paper is aimed at objectively studying the process of change without committing itself to any particular policy. The skepticism of colonialism and its arrogant assumption of omniscience and opposition to the existing social order were analyzed. The colonial regime was engaged in the expansion of cash economy and missionary approach. Accordingly anthropologists were cast into the mould of the colonial stereotypes and monolithic notions with functionalist overtones which were the keynote of the colonial anthropology of that time. The functionalist studies dealt with family life, customs, folklore, economic activities and religion. Subsequently, several monographs emerged on the gamut of culture and integration emphasizing diffusionism. The studies were largely based on relations between the individuals occupying specific roles in social structure. By and large, anthropological studies have completely ignored the genesis and basis of social relations, class formation, conflict, contradictions and the question of gender in particular. Precisely this is the crucial point which economic anthropology-formalism, substantivism, structuralism and materialism approach, respectively. In the present exercise an attempt is made to briefly appraise these schools of thought.


Key word: Economic anthropology.