Ideas of substantivism in the works of M. Salins. - Social anthropology

The ideas of substantivism in the works of M. Salins.

The results of our own studies of the way of life and ways of doing business in Melanesia, as well as the data of other economic anthropologists, are collected in the book of the famous American anthropologist Marshall Salins (born 1930), the Stone Age Economy, which he directly calls "substantivist" ;

He debunk the typical myths concerning the life of people of archaic societies. One of the most common myths about hunters and gatherers, as well as about societies of early forms of farming: they allegedly live at the limit of physical possibilities, work from dawn to dusk, but often remain hungry. As a result, they are constantly in a state of stress, are used to tough relationships with each other, exhausted by hard work and are prone to illness. M. Salins lists the most common misconceptions: "simple survival economy", "limited leisure in exceptional cases", "unceasing searches for food", "meager and very unreliable" natural resources, "no economic surplus," "maximum energy from the maximum number of people" .

He contrasted this view with the opposite thesis about a society of limited abundance: "Needs can easily be met by either producing a lot or wanting little" , "who does not want anything, he does not need anything"; . The circle of needs and desires of hunters is predetermined by the natural conditions and traditions of the people to which they belong.

M. Salins came to the following conclusions:

- in the society of hunters and gatherers there is not only a pursuit of the growth of extracted products, but even the thought of such behavior;

- Aborigines spend a little time on life-support activities, and they have plenty of time to communicate with their neighbors, caring for their children and communicating with each other;

- the circle of needs of the aborigine is narrow, but no anthropologist has observed in any form its steady growth, as the Western business model proclaims;

Since a person in a traditional society is relatively free from material pressure, he shows "insufficient interest in developing technological equipment" .

M. Salins believes that in the culture of traditional peoples there is no conception of an "economic man", for only his absence "implies a voluntary abandonment of a greed for profit that has never been developed, and a suppression of desires that have never been talked about. This does not mean that hunters and gatherers curbed their material impulses; they just did not make them an institution " .

M. Salins characterizes the social functions of exchanges in archaic societies and believes that the main function of both intra-community and intercommunity exchanges is communication, and the main goal is the establishment of friendly feelings among exchange participants: "We are dealing with a society where, in the context of relations and forms of exchange it is not supposed to benefit from someone else's account, "where" every man and every woman tried to outbid each other with generosity. There was a kind of friendly competition: who will be able to distribute the greatest number of valuable gifts? . The most important feature of the exchange in traditional society M. Salins considered the mutual obligation to be generous.

Thus, individuals do not exist in traditional societies in isolation. Their actions are woven into complex networks of social interactions, and in the process of exchange, partnership relations are formed. The economic consciousness of pre-technological peoples does not contain aspirations for enrichment, these people have a poorly developed sense of ownership, and most importantly the quality in their behavior is generosity.

However, commentators point out the contradictory nature of M. Salins's methodological positions. On the one hand, he declares that in the "primitive society" there are no relations, institutions or system of institutions that would be economic themselves. And indeed, Salins writes that the "economy" becomes a category of culture rather than behavior, it is more likely to be viewed in the same vein as politics or religion than in the intellectual channel of rationalism or calculation: not as an individual activity aimed at satisfying needs but as a process of the material life of society " . Economic functions in such a society perform a variety of relationships and institutions: related, family, political, ritual, etc.

On the other hand, he describes some of the relations of primitive society as economic, and others - as non-economic. And in this case, often two different characteristics are given literally to the same relationship, taken in the same context.

Nevertheless, the unquestionable merit of M. Salins is the demonstration of the diverse system of social relations of "primitive societies", the identification of the special nature of their economic life. He showed in his works the secondary nature of the material side of the exchange, demonstrated a different meaning of the markets in Melanesia compared with the European economy.

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