Jul 13, 2012

A critique of economic imperialism

The extension of economics to topics that lie outside its classical domain is known as ‘economic imperialism’. But there are territories of social science that persist to be largely intractable using the postulates of economic theory: the anthropological subject of primitive societies represents one such territory. This paper describes and discusses the representation of primitive societies by economists from the proto-imperialist model of Smith to the imperialist Posner's model. It maintains that (a) the economists’ attempt at interpretation is highly unsatisfactory and (b) it is possible to offer a different representation of the primitive societies, one more coherent with the anthropological and ethnographical data, and able to show the inadequacy and insubstantiality of many economic categories when applied to those societies.
That is from the paper titled "The economists and the primitive societies: A critique of economic imperialism" by Roberto Marchionatti - in the latest number of the Journal of Socio-Economics, October 2012. Of course the classic response from the economics side in this old debate was this one. Is this debate still alive?

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