This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
A dissertation submitted to the University of Manchester for the degree of Master of Arts in the Faculty of Humanities
Alexander Parkinson School of Social Sciences
Introducing the Eye of Providence Economic Model ........................................................................................... 7 Bridging the Intellectual Divide? ......................................................................................................................... 12 Why the Great Transformation Today? ............................................................................................................... 7 Outlining the Eye of Providence Methodology .................................................................................................. 8 Dialectical Interconnectivity of Components ................................................................................................. 11
Introduction ......................................................................................................................................................................... 5
List of Contents
Theorising with the Eye of Providence Model ..................................................................................................... 14 Political Economy ...................................................................................................................................................... 14 An Interpretative Theory of Value...................................................................................................................... 18
Wall Street in an Anthropological Economy ....................................................................................................... 23
Migrant Remittances in an Anthropological Economy ................................................................................... 34 Remittances and the Eye of Providence Model............................................................................................... 41 Conclusion ......................................................................................................................................................................... 49 What the Economists Say… ................................................................................................................................... 34
Articulations of Value Realms ..........................................................................................................................45 Summary ...................................................................................................................................................................47
Transnational Dynamics of Remittances .....................................................................................................42
Remittances and Macroeconomics .................................................................................................................37
Remittances and Microeconomics ..................................................................................................................35
Masters of a Symbolic Universe of Value .....................................................................................................30
The Politics of Shareholder Value in a Finance-led Economy .............................................................27
The Economy, The Whitehouse, Wall Street, and High Financiers ...................................................23
The Values of Price ................................................................................................................................................21
The Problem of “Economic” Value ..................................................................................................................19
Local Expressions, Global Forces, and Elite Interests ............................................................................15
Word count: 17,594
The Eye of Providence model…………………………………………………………………………………………………10
List of Diagrams
This paper critiques the privileged place of economic expertise in contemporary society and introduces the Eye of Providence model - intended for economic anthropology - that directly engages and challenges knowledge from the discipline of economics. The formal and substantive elements of the economy are situated in dialectically embedded relationships with individuals, institutions, and ruling powers. I exemplify how an anthropological approach to value is useful when highlighting the limits of economic knowledge. This is achieved theoretically by blending ideas from political economy with perspectives from interpretive or symbolic anthropology. The result is an approach that, on the one hand, pays careful attention to wider systems of power, such as those embodied by the term “neoliberalism”, and how these articulate with local political contexts. On the other hand, it uses the concept of value or values to probe the social, political, and cultural dynamics of economic value and to interpret meaningfully how values shape economic action from the perspective of economic actors.
The model is tested comparatively, firstly with financiers that operate in a formally instituted market environment but that are shown to also function through institutionalised culture and forces of political power. Secondly, it is tested on the case of remittance makers that operate more informally through gift exchanges with their kin. This allows me to contrast the place of economic expertise in a market environment – familiar ground for economists – with a context that does not sit so comfortably with its methods. I argue for a more humanistic approach to the economy and highlight specific points of collaboration with economics. I also emphasise that anthropologists should pay more attention to the processes through which economics ideologically represents the world, rather than channelling efforts into disproving the universality of economic models.
No portion of the work referred to in the dissertation has been submitted in support of institute of learning. COPYRIGHT STATEMENT
an application for another degree or qualification of this or any other university or other
i. Copyright in text of this dissertation rests with the author. Copies (by any process) the author. Details may be obtained from the appropriate Graduate Office. This page in accordance with such instructions may not be made without the permission (in writing) of the author.
either in full, or of extracts, may be made only in accordance with instructions given by
must form part of any such copies made. Further copies (by any process) of copies made ii. The ownership of any intellectual property rights which may be described in this agreement.
dissertation is vested in the University of Manchester, subject to any prior agreement to permission of the University, which will prescribe the terms and conditions of any such take place is available from the Head of the School of Social Sciences.
the contrary, and may not be made available for use by third parties without the written iii. Further information on the conditions under which disclosures and exploitation may
I obtained a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Corporate Communication from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006. This included two years of study at Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
In September 2009, I embarked on the Master of Arts (taught) in Social Anthropology at Manchester University and began specialising in economic anthropology over the summer of 2010. With special thanks to Karen Sykes, Mia, David, Jarle, Irene, and Jennifer.
I worked as a stockbroker and investment manager in Manchester, UK, from 2006 to 2009, obtaining the Certificate in Investment Securities in 2007 and the Certificate in Investment Management in 2008 from the Securities and Investment Institute.
For Mr Alan Cave…
what is “good”. in doing so. the value of anthropological expertise. I will present a critique of the high value placed on economic expertise in contemporary Western society and. I reveal how anthropology of value can mark out the limitations of economic expertise – embedded ideologically in our social knowledge and practice – by negotiating those areas of life that currently fall outside of the rubric of the discipline of economics but nonetheless 5 . by arguing for the theoretical guidance for the subdiscipline of economic anthropology. “the economy”? How might an anthropological perspective enable a greater overcomes the current rule of economics as the queen of those social sciences that judge importance of understanding dimensions of power in relation to value. An influence and constitute our economic lives. In response to the trend that William Milberg (2009) has that economists occupy as “the high priests of our [Western] culture” (Wilk 1996. p. 33). also includes judgements made certain interests are served by value structures that pattern such judgements. enhance. Indeed.sciences is all too well known in anthropology. which as a matter of no coincidence. in my view. Council (2009) granted less than one-fifth of the number of research awards to social The astounding dominance of the discipline of economics over the other social Introduction understanding of contemporary economic life? In what ways can it engage constructively with economics. I introduce what I shall refer to as the Eye of Providence economic model that offers methodological and What is at stake in answering these questions is an anthropology of value that regarding the discipline’s own brand of knowledge. for anthropologists and for us all. discipline rests but to provide new insights that connect with its understandings? Given the centrality of economic thought in modern social and political spheres. The Economic and Social Research anthropology than it did to economics in 2009 and it received just over a quarter of the described as “intellectual imperialism” and in order to problematize the current status this paper asks what are the implications of privileging one form of knowledge over another? What is economic expertise? In what ways and in which places can we study number of applications (p. 64). and hopefully questions about the value of knowledge meet questions about value more generally. not only to challenge the axioms upon which the these are among the big questions of today. It is here that In this thesis. To this end. emphasise.
The final people live economic lives in spaces of divergent degrees of (in)formality. and ruling powers. Rather than merely refuting economic expertise. I argue that anthropology should focus on the ways in which economics political dynamics that can draw the two disciplines closer together. I do not suggest that these two theoretical this paper. (mis)represents the world and should vie for a more humanistic intellectual perspective on the economy. model. cultural. which situates the economy – as a set of both ideas and functionings – in relation and epistemological – in a more concrete fashion and across two very different contexts. More setting. as well as the place and role of money in each social 6 . This comparative analysis not only shows anthropologically how undertaken by remittance-makers to contrast economists’ understandings with that of workers to reveal the influence of culture in a formally instituted environment. for the purposes of The remainder of the paper endeavours to emphasise the importance of this specific importantly. the third section reinterprets ethnographic research conducted with finance part investigates the less-instituted practices of international money transfers anthropologists. perspectives are the only ones compatible with my model. the second The opening section outlines the methodological areas of the Eye of Providence Thus. I hope to engage it directly to highlight potential areas of It became apparent to me while developing the overall framework – of method part considers how the model relates to political economy and interpretative approaches to the anthropology of value. however. connection between economic knowledge and anthropological knowledge. blend of prescriptions for an anthropological economy – theoretical. it also enables me to contrast the nature and place of economic expertise vis-à-vis anthropological expertise. Hence. In addition to this. I believe that we must go beyond simply arguing that the world everywhere is different and that universal principles do not hold up in reality. institutions. In the space between economic representation and economic reality lies a distinct opportunity for anthropological analyses to highlight social. and to individuals. they should be considered part and parcel of the conceptual apparatus. methodological. To add theoretical direction.and of theory – that I should avoid reiterating the conceptual dichotomy of the “universal” and the “particular” that seems to echo through so many connected debates.
“institutions”. He was not opposed to the Importantly. I have split society into “individuals”.Introducing the Eye of Providence Economic Model rethinking of Polanyi in a contemporary context. Polanyi was principally concerned with the relationship between the market and society. There are 1 has arisen that Polanyi did not envisage when writing in the 1940s but that has and socialist forms of economic management were dislodged. I conflate the terms “market”. Certainly. 2 as well as Polanyi’s notion of embeddedness. a situation I take “the market” to be both an economic idea and a functioning of the economy. 3). Keynesian dominance of the U. and “economy” throughout the paper. and “ruling powers”. 3 Although it has been argued that “embeddedness” is not one of Polanyi’s main concepts and that it was actually transformed by sociologists into the mainstream of the discipline (Beckert 2009). contradicting common belief. In structuring my model. his fears may have been quelled with the rise to Polanyi believed that the market fundamentalism to which he was opposed utilisation of markets to allocate goods and services from a more marginal position in society but to the dominant position that self-regulated markets can come to occupy would ultimately lead to a political reaction and a withdrawal to more socially sensitive perpetuated by market fundamentalists epitomised by Reagan and Thatcher. as an economic superpower. 3 legitimize [sic] wealth and even to make poverty seem deserved” (p. enabled through market expansion (Hart 2000). particularly with tracing how the former became central to the latter and emphasising the destructive social consequences that ensue when self-regulating markets form the bases of societies. consequently.S. characterising unrestrained markets as “engines of inequality” and arguing that the “notion of markets as a natural force beyond social regulation serves also to society. he showed that this was achieved through political power rather than The inspiration for my model initially came from Hann and Harts’ (2009) Why the Great Transformation Today? when the market principle reigns supreme. 7 . I have largely drawn on the idea of the interplay between the market 1 and economic practices. Hann and Hart (2009) have similar concerns today. rather than tracing a genealogy of ideas. However. 2 In the model. I hope to show that Gudeman’s (2009a) concept of dialectical embeddedness is useful when understanding contemporary economies. natural social evolution. “finance”. it is the rethinking of Polanyi’s ideas that I am concerned with here. nonetheless imbued his ideas with a new resurgence (Hann & Hart 2009). with the global spread of neoliberal ideology since the 1980s.
have felt obligated to address the main views of economists. Anthropologists. The remainder of this section and the one that follows lay the more anthropologists to directly challenge economists at their own game of national and anthropology. it certainly seems that a Hann and Hart (2009) argue that the discipline of economics has mainly concerned itself with individuals assumed to be economic decision-makers and market participants. hence. as well as some general questions to be explored. The editors (2009) call for global economic analysis in order to assess the world economy – in whole and by part – conceptual groundwork for this type of study by offering a model for economic walls of a library-based study. The world of ideas. has within its triangular enclosure a Outlining the Eye of Providence Methodology 4 I use the term “economic life” to incorporate the perspectives of production. My work is not based on research experience and is thus restricted by the component for “economy” that encompasses both economic “ideas” per se and the actual “functionings” of an economy that occur out there in the world. However. the idea of an quest for a better understanding of contemporary economic life 4 should begin by riding social integration (Beckert 2009. globalisation. and consumption. 8 . p. pp. exchange. 38-41). pp. and investigate further “whether or not capitalist economy rests on human principles of universal validity” (p. 12). as outlined in figure 1 below. With the focus on market relations. 72-74). as the market is once again considered vital to the functioning of society (Servet 2009. would consist of neoclassic theories ranging from hypotheses of efficient markets to notions of individual rationality but also more socially sensitive concepts. too. for instance. The model. Yet people per se do not feature in their calculations. I hope to still set out specific research objectives. The baton was the perceived rise in the importance of understanding economic concerns in relation to partly carried by sociologists whose interest was invigorated from the late 1970s due to practical arm of global capitalism” (Hann & Hart 2009. 13). distribution.parallels between Polanyi’s description of European societies during The Great Transformation and the current revival of self-regulating markets through neoliberal this resurgent wave of Polanyian (re)thinking. as economics became “the ideological and economy with humans has been left for other social scientists to pursue.
market.S. They would. for example. Given that the all-seeing eye can be state may intervene but it acts only in the divine name of a Capitalist Democratic metaphor of “the eye”.S. Firstly. namely. The physical functionings are the substance of the marketplace. reflect modern capitalist state not simply signify economic phenomena relating to organisations or to economic meaning that they attach to their economic lives. I use it interchangeably with “the economy” in order to interpreted as God watching over all of humanity. together. one dollar bill and that has the I have named my economic model the “Eye of Providence” for two reasons. which is perhaps more loosely enacted through the market principle The top point of the model – the pyramid’s tip – represents the “ruling powers” than through a physical marketplace. Therefore. 6 & 15). The component of the model that points to “institutions” and their “knowledges” and “practices” does rethinking that I have outlined above. In accordance to the Polanyian to understand economic life. It may. it is rather fitting with a central tenet capitalist societies that we can think of this Great Transformation as an apotheosis. as well as activity in “the components at each of the three points of the triangle. these four main elements of the framework Finally. “actions” highlights the importance of considering peoples’ economic agency and the agendas to protect the economy from inflation through monetary policy. these signs are said to refer to the many divine interventions for the American cause (U. for instance. pp. Taken ubiquitously represented on the Great Seal of the U. area to illustrate the dialectical embeddedness (discussed below) with the other housing market”.such as the domestic moral economy. my second motive for labelling my model this way is to invoke the 9 . consist of the actual buying and selling that occurs in a institutions themselves but also includes institutions. The of this paper. which is probably most words “Annuit Coeptis” – God favours our undertakings – placed above it. has become so important to modern Economy. such as that on the London Stock Exchange. the point of the model that incorporates “individuals” and their “thoughts” and represent the fundamental perspectives from which I believe social scientists should try its structure resembles the symbol of the Eye of Providence. I have situated the economy within this enclosed and their “rulings” and “interests”. that the economy. or the eye. such as the household or family. Department of State 2003.
and the power emanating from. correspondingly. Marketplace. I have ordered the examples in every sub-component box of the model between the concepts. 3. ** All connections are dialectical.emphasise the piety towards. Remittances. Market economy. the associated ideas and functionings. *** “Economic ideas” discussed in this essay are mapped onto the sub-component box in 10 . Figure 1 – The Eye of Providence Economic Model: * Rulings Monetary policy De-regulation Confer chiefly title Force state governments to act Ruling Power Interests Control inflation Reduce trade barriers Increase chiefly power Encourage investment of remittances Economy ** *** Functionings Capitalist transactions Banking deals Cycling gift system Total remittances Ideas A market economy Marketplace Domestic Moral Economy Remittance phenomenon Institutions Practices IMF policy pressure Raise capital Serve chief and kin Remit to kin Individuals Knowledges Economic reports Analyst reports Services rendered Kinship ties Actions Sell labour Buy stock Share food with kin Migrate and remit Thoughts Accumulate money Make a profit Value sharing Value family * The borders on each component are intentionally dashed to emphasise the crossover the following order: 1. 4. Domestic Moral Economy. 2.
I now depict the Dialectical Interconnectivity of Components value realms that surround each. This world is then objective and antecedent to individuals. 28 & 29). My model supports the illumination of such depict the social order as an ongoing human production where action becomes model is characterised by dialectical mutual constitution. industrial society. 79). it must be made plausible by a second-order process of legitimisation. Society is an objective reality. Having outlined the main components of the framework. Man is a social product” (p. despite the rhetoric of increased practices and models that it supports. Polanyi emphasises how the economy became disembedded from existing social relations as the Western world made the transition to despite observing the emergence and form of economic institutions (Gudeman 2009a. On the other. Once this first- order of social institutionalisation has been established.any embeddedness as a flaw to the ideal functioning of the economy. On the one hand. 37). while the downsizing itself undermines mutuality and holds wages down. Neoclassic economists would happily leave things there. Gudeman (2009a) argues for a dialectical approach to society and the market as both embedded and disembedded and considers the two different economic base of shared interests and holdings of people who are themselves products have become submerged in the market. but it is also undermined by the very market tension” (p. Mutuality is essential to the existence of all economies. people are only connected through market trade by alienating and impersonal contracts. while this dependency link is itself erased. where it assumes different historical forms and degrees of pp. as the product acts back upon the producers in a dialectical relationship whereby: “Society is a human . This is productivity (Gudeman 2009a. even those that exemplified when companies mystify downsizing by presenting themselves as dynamics. Gudeman (2009a) argues that this “division is a continuing dialectic in all economies. communities to the employees on which they depend. 32-34). for which Berger and Luckman (1966) identify 11 (pp. Berger and Luckman (1966) We could posit further that the relationship between all four elements of the patterned and the patterning eventually becomes habitually typified into institutions product. pp. 69-78). Even the New Institutional Economists overlook the a priori relationships that constitute actors. To rectify this. there is a mutual of others within the base. perceiving relationship between the parts.
20-22). one could say that these are: incipient transmission of a vocabulary of selfinterest. a great intellectual split can be discerned when Bridging the Intellectual Divide? assumes the universality of the individual and the latter implies the particularity of each The roots of the intellectual dichotomy at the heart of the formalist-substantivist particular divide back respectively to the individual contract posited by Spencer and the social contextualisation of Durkheim. explicit theories of an institutional sector with a separate stock of order. The divide was perhaps most pronounced when it manifested as the opposing force between the two schools of thought that comprised As I alluded to in the introduction. Carrier (2009a) traces the universalpoint. such as “you have to think of yourself in business”. The formalists begin considering the history of economic anthropology. Disputes between those that even to the time of Plato and Aristotle (Blavatsky 1939). Reinterpreted for a neoliberal capitalist “The Great Debate”. at the highest level. 110-122).economy. Wilk with individuals. such as the economic proverb “a rising tide knowledge. while the social context. Thus. I assume that in reality the truths in either view that are worth exploring. I can now explore this a little further. and finally. Having outlined my model. This leaves me with one caveat and one saw a “world of ideas” and those who tried to understand things “as they are” date back divide is more of an intellectual continuum than a dichotomous split and that there are tendency that Malinowski identified in the Trobrianders against the social and historical 12 . considered to be rational self-interested maximizers. basic theoretical lifts all boats”. the methodology of the former view debate run much deeper and farther back. such as a universe of “value”. I do not revisit the formalist-substantivist debate but invoke it only to demonstrate the model’s capacity to draw together these divergent views. The divide continued to the primitive acquisitive context of self-interest that Mauss argued for (pp. the institutions of which they say act as structures for economic life (pp. such as economics. 1-13). the symbolic universe that amalgamates discrete provinces of meaning and encompasses the institutional four distinct and ascending levels (pp. (1996) believes that the debate’s disengagement derives from each party’s starting substantivists start at the level of societies. which he claims made the perspectives mutually exclusive. propositions that explain sets of meanings.
my model is designed to encourage adherence to 13 . Indeed. namely.challenge. to productively reconcile this age-old epistemological separation. where possible. I should aspire. by positing that “everything is like this” or that “everything is different”. I must avoid the pitfalls of adhering too strongly to either perspective. Firstly. Secondly. these prescriptions.
as outlined so far. 68-71). We also need a theoretical compass to which are key themes from Hann and Harts’ (2009) edited volume. The exclusive to the stated domains. are not open up the economic realm in a unified fashion. allowing me to interweave the theoretical analysis and investigation that constitute the final parts of my model and that I will later apply to the At the societal level. because they particular. p. (2009) criticism of Polanyi vis-à-vis the Durkheimians for not attending to the emphasising a Durkheimian functional approach. This may seem at odds with Steiner’s Political Economy institutions. I have opted for a view of political economy. whereas interpretative value theory is generally more applicable to the element for “individuals”. it is necessary to further elaborate the theoretical account in line with The Eye of Providence economic model. Although it does include some theoretical discussion. in developing an anthropological theory of economy”. of representation and reality. and of anthropological and economic expertise. Navigating through the notions of the universal and the will take more than conceptual cartography. and “institutions”. As I mentioned at the outset. 83). such as the use of 14 . 71). his discussion of the importance of the teaching of economics. and on how economic knowledge is embodied by market tools and apparatus. and for endorsing rather than challenging its economic assumptions (pp. Steiner’s (2009) framework of my model (p. though. which is powerfully employed to extend the market. rather than say stress on “[a] more accurate study of the interplay between economic thought. Moreover. to allow for a political slant when connecting with economics (Wilk 1996. Indeed. These complementary perspectives. and the economy” does seem to superimpose comfortably onto the functioning of the market. assuming market mentality to be obsolete. is more methodological Theorising with the Eye of Providence Model theoretical apparatus of political economy lends itself to studies of the “ruling powers” generally differ with respect to their orientations to society and to the individual. such as dialectics and embeddedness.in that it highlights four conceptual areas where researchers might examine “the the aspirations of the paper. I now introduce the two lines of cases of finance workers and remittance makers. I have chosen to invoke political economy and interpretive approaches to value. value. direct our way.
owing to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Nevertheless. in order to understand these phenomena. In a political economic milieu where the heavily indebted government. as if it were a component of something that derives from a and functionings directly. Global Forces. a profitable space. I clearly do not ignore Steiner’s (2009) concerns. which nonetheless shows that investigating the dynamic relationship between political powers and economic forms is market growing free and expanding to other areas of life. 240conservation in Jamaica. Carrier (2009b) augments this point when he measure and value of individuals. for large overseas corporations (Carrier 2009b. as money itself becomes the we must attend to economic beliefs. He argues that neoliberalism permeates many aspects of life that are not ostensibly economic. Local Expressions. 15 . that is. by dealing with economic ideas I begin with a less extreme case of political power. power is prevalent.and power dimensions of economic life rather than simply observing the functional aspects of an economy. motivations. had no money for 242). I develop a more Marxist stance on this occasion to emphasise the political unified structure (Wilk 1996. the market reach was largely realised as park management eventually became reduced to the financial bottom line and a good coastal areas through an emphasis on tourism. Even in situations where the connection may ostensibly be trivial. While this approach may also fit my model. This was not simply a consequence of the self-regulating market model but an outcome of the way the environmental activists had important point about how ethnographers should think about engaging with political economy. thus. Carrier (2009b) discusses his research of environmental conservation. To exemplify this. 83-93). institutions. pp. pp. and practices (pp. 68-71). activists had to appeal to the commercial advantages of protecting the vital if we wish to comprehend the latter. Nevertheless. compares our current moment of neoliberalism to Polanyi’s notion of the self-regulating “environment” came to mean a profitable space for attracting tourists. since it essentially represents a local expression of global and national forces. seems to link well with the dialectical interconnectivity of the model (pp. 242-255). I revisit this case briefly below but for now wish to note that it raises an to operate through extending the market principle to commodify the coastal land and local labour force. and Elite Interests economic models in contemporary financial markets.
S. even if this macrosystem perspective entails traversing multiple field sites (pp. The notion of a multi-sited ethnography has indeed become part of the mainstream in anthropology. this was perhaps a more innovative statement than if it were made now. it is not sufficient to simply reveal these systems…[through] their thoroughly local definition and penetration. my model notably advocates the kind of formative of the symbols and shared meanings within the most intimate life-worlds of expressions per se. p. the unlikelihood of Jamaica simply attributed to neoliberal reforms that made the borrower take the losses on defaults (p. we could posit that the neoliberal ideology forcefully circulated through the IMF allowed it to continue charging crippling interest payments to an indebted country and force the reduction of trade barriers and capital flows to allow foreign tourism corporations and investors to gain capital opportunistically within the 29). when the million IMF loan in 1978. interpreting neoliberalism – a sweeping abstraction that he invokes to for elites to accumulate capital. as we must also consider the broader scale of political economy. these political economic forces should be the object of study for anthropology. 39). 48). the precedent set by the New York fiscal crisis that favoured a good business default. Combining his arguments with Carrier’s (2009b) institutions and ruling powers that shape them. At the time of their writing. 90-95). Indeed. Jamaican government accepted “stringent fiscal controls” in order to obtain a U. 138). and [that] are Marcus and Fischer (1986). whereby it will always protect financial firms (p. But what might this type of macrosystem view be processes. From Harvey’s (2005) standpoint. and the full authority given to the IMF in cases of Jamaican workers and higher profits for multinationals” (Bolles 1983. 73). However.Marcus and Fischer (1986) call for ethnographic fieldwork to represent “external ethnographic subjects” (p. 16 . The passionately communicated in Stephanie Black’s documentary Life and Debt (2001).$240 calamitous consequences of this from the Jamaican perspective are perhaps most 5 defaulting on its debt and its inability to negotiate more socially-friendly terms would be climate over social well-being (p. those opposed to the move predicted “lower wages for country’s borders. For describe a plethora of different actions – as a political project that creates the conditions research in Jamaica. 5 By connecting economic forms and individuals to the forces of and how can it complement an understanding of local economic forms? David Harvey (2005) offers a particularly Marxist view of these broader research that the authors envisage.
largely in order to protect the interests of creditors against abstraction because it exemplifies my point about external forces. tracing the influences of “neoliberal” ruling powers that operate through ideas themselves. and financialisation that is increasingly detached from direct relations to commerce or While Harvey (2005) offers a rather radical perspective of political economy. it is debt but this age has also witnessed the establishment of “the first effective planetary administrative system. it is important to look at whose interests a particular model is serving and question the types of value that 17 . 130). he says. It is characterised. like “societies”.nonetheless instructive in showing the importance of attending to the ways in which empire of debt” does seem to echo these concerns. I am not suggesting that neoliberalism is the only broad systemic other financial institutions. and debtors” (p. since it is usually employed to encompass notions of market fundamentalism and processes of “neoliberal” institutions – such as the World Bank and the IMF – may be a decent those that we would usually refer to as “capitalist”. 131). 131-132). Not only are we seemingly devoid of the social controls in place to curtail force to be reckoned with. operating through the IMF. especially boundaries or making models is problematic since “what we call social or economic according to completely different principles” (p. Graeber’s (2009) depiction of our current era as “the electronic consumer transactions. Graeber (2009) emphasises this point when he argues that drawing systems are. However. national economies driven by consumer debt. creating a totalizing model within which the books all balance and all debts and production. nor am I ignoring alternative views of it that de-emphasise its homogenising and hegemonic character (Ong 2006). He argues that the market: credits ultimately cancel one another out” (pp. in reality. This is particularly crucial even if neoliberalism around the globe. are ideological gestures that do not exist out there in the world but rather are a specific way in which a society represents itself. the World Bank. I have merely chosen to utilise the global spread. starting-point when thinking about external influences on economic forms. corporations. by we only partially accept Harvey’s (2005) depiction of the uneven spread of external influences can forcefully shape a given locale. an endless interweaving of dyadic relations that often operate The dynamics of political economy can also be fathomed by unpacking economic “is a model created by isolating certain principles within a complex system […] and then If “markets”.
In short. This allows us to enter have depicted above. In our “empire of debt”. This is a holistic ambition external political influences on economic actors and institutions. 132). I probe the meaning of economics as something that is embedded deeply in culture and belief. This may If we accept Graeber’s (2009) argument. rather than just what is going on. better understanding of the forces that shape economic life and a further opportunity Leaving things there would do no justice to the dialectical relationships that I political dynamics that constitute economic ideas themselves. “a market” sells a house. such as the commodification of Jamaica or of humans and nature more broadly. As Graeber (2009) illustrates. the institutional context that enabled the loans to take place. it is a step towards a for interdisciplinary dialogue. failed market exchange. and the state’s neoliberal means asking why this is happening. as well as the internal agenda that promoted less regulation. We also require a better comprehension of the positioning of different actors in such practices. rather than vice18 the world of minds and presents the possibility of revealing a more Weberian view of inherent meanings would be left unexamined.market” justifies capitalist principles (p. we must aspire to interpret the interplay between the local and the for greedy opportunistic creditors to loan money to people who could not afford to pay “value(s)” in different contexts to effectively map out a symbolic structure of meaning. it and interests of political powers and their effects on that facet of the economy. My point is that it that may not be truly achievable in modern ethnography. say. to argue abstractly that defaults on subprime mortgages can be understood as what Stuart Kirsch (2006) might refer to as “unrequited reciprocity” rather than. To achieve this. it indicates that anthropologists must are being realised. versa with a Marxist take (Wilk 1996. for instance. p. In sum. attempt to understand more than the functioning of a market and probe the influences even entail challenging the raison d'être of existing ideas about the latter. Economic life would simply be a socio-political product and the An Interpretative Theory of Value . however. this part tries to reveal the picture as seen from “the individual”. where as “the would be insufficient. it was quite acceptable it back. 110). If the previous section brought the individual into the picture as an activist within a Jamaican political economic system.
which were central to economics at the 19 . could not resolve this problem. The Problem of “Economic” Value forms of economic life. This is something that I hope an anthropological theory of value will achieve. This conflicts with the notion of humanity as having the potential for solidarity. 86). and considers Developing a symbolic theory of value takes us far beyond thinking about “value” theories were: another. what kinds of preferences. of recognising both the needs of the individual and of society (pp. In doing as natural and isolated from politics and where exchange counterparts in the market could have complete freedom to make choices. so. 89-90). scarcity. For instance. p. interdependence as a community. which we must venture much deeper than these logics of exchange. have been sidelined and left for anthropologists and other To understand the problems surrounding past and current theories of value(s). 87-89). extending the concept of an anthropological theory of value and its connection to economy.thus. and utility. Economic theories of value were developed through the myth of value Polanyi made explicit. By meshing symbolic anthropology with the dynamics of political instead how value is determined through relations between different groups. Servet (2009) argues that these “objective [since] they rationalized the relationship between a person (conceived of as 2009. questions of value. it becomes apparent that there are alternatives to our current world configuration. Classical economists. pp. positing their world of self-interest. 89). maintain an equal standing to one by nature an egotistical individual) and a world of things where others exist only through competition for access to those things” (pp. and have the ability to act with full rationality. expertise do we miss by assuming a narrow view of value? Graeber (2005) maintains that contemporary economists have limited the focus of their discipline to the production of mathematical models of resource allocation for profit or consumer birth of the discipline. consequently. the Eye of Providence model should hopefully encourage “[a]n interpretative anthropology [that is] fully accountable to its historical and political-economy implications” (Marcus & Fischer 1986. and being obligated to future societies. which was manufactured by economists and based on relations of self-interest (Servet in the purely rational economic terms of labour.
as the meaning of value (p. he highlights that it was questions of value that set neoclassic economists apart from their predecessors. a contemporary study of value would typically surpass what we territory that is very hard to reduce to rational calculation and science” (Graeber 2005. as one may recognise that I am characterising it as destructive of all that is worthwhile and meaningful. traversing material to which some scholars dedicate an entire career. Graeber (2005) outlines three uses of the term: system of value “that defines the world in terms of what is important. aesthetic and symbolic the Saussurean linguistic sense. Adam Smith developed the labour theory of value to explain the difference between the exchange value and use value of objects. Grasping the particular is not a calculative act but judging the universal is. economics as a discipline devoted to studying the formation of price (pp. the price and value of objects became increasingly “transcended the physical altogether. the movement from mid-nineteenth situation. and became simply a subjective measure of desire” indistinguishable from one another. In the sections below.scholars to explore. that there was a fundamental change. However. Was this shift in economic expertise simply down to myopia? I suspect probably not. this kind of intellectual insight was swept aside by the marginalist revolution that redefined however. desirable or worthwhile in it” (Graeber 2005. it implies a common foundation for the three meanings. 440). a paradigm shift perhaps. I will “values” in the socio-philosophical sense. an anthropological theory of value. While the underlying dynamics of the change are important because they allow us to see how away from the theorists mentioned above. a symbolic So how else can we theorise about value(s)? When questioning the existence of century U. production to consumption at the turn of the following century. “value” in the economic usage. 453). “for it leads us into moral. p. Marx critiqued the wage system. that makes this whole process work. 441-443). My point is. and “value” in of the same thing. 439). that is. Significantly. If one considers these terms to essentially be instances 20 . meaningful. Ricardo identified the problem of depressed wages. one that followed on historical changes in the economic ideas change vis-à-vis economic functionings. From here on. I kindly ask for the reader’s patience here. so too is the state of the present would usually refer to as “economics”. Moreover.K. p. Maybe it can be better viewed as a constructive distinction that was produced – largely through political power – when making the shift in perspective key economic activities of men and women.
I specifically investigate Graeber’s (2005) claim that it may be able to regards to the latter of the three usages. rose sharply by a dollar and rocked the projections of budgets from households to assuming prices to be singular wholes. refining costs and profits. which made costs of finance imperceptible.attempt to delineate such a system by analysing different usages of “value(s)”. as he argues. thus. rather than simply amalgamates an expanded notion of value with an awareness of the concealment of the fabrications of prices. and distribution 21 . Forced to explain the rise. She shows how. in the twenty-first century. 203-205). there was a steady proportional return and they and marketing. 205). They did not include profit on capital as a composite category. such as those encompassed by currency exchanges. Dumont believed Western society is no longer hierarchical. As shrewd consumers. we are now reminded of outcome. paper since. Moreover. which has allowed the market. economic actors are processes behind them and popular understandings of them. The hidden amongst the traditional elements (pp. as a sphere of individual self-realisation. “is a moral economy of transparently composite prices. 447-50). corporations. Guyer (2009) claims. Graeber (2005) able to become inverted at different levels. the Saussauran approach to value as meaningful mediate understandings between individuals and systems. she argues that we should investigate the components encompassed by prices that are diffusely U. petroleum companies claimed that despite the rise in the nominal price of oil. to If value is conflated with price in our current economic world. This may be especially pertinent to this not because Westerners value equality but because the supreme value is now the become the highest sphere (pp. which nevertheless retain the mystery of their components” (p. the public representation of price was as Guyer (2009) demonstrates this through a case where the price of gasoline in the distinguished between crude oil costs. Thus. taxes. With difference. invokes Dumont’s notion of classic structuralist ideas as values that are hierarchical and individual. Guyer’s (2009) work on increasingly aware that composite elements constitute prices.S. then perhaps it The Values of Price will pay to also scratch below the surface of commodity prices to reveal the social price provides a suitable account with which to close this section because it political power.
If numbers cannot simply be taken at economic face “value”. It also portrays a case proportions of the retail price that was itself based on market actors from producers to contracts. from which the great values are composite and allows us to investigate them as such. these factors. Risk management and consulting costs. driving up the price. and indeed the great resulting profits made from investment banks. can only constitute part of the market price of crude from the view benefactors seem to be investment banks. this presents a clear point-of-entry for anthropology to interpret their associated social. Beyond the singular numerical task involves working with economic numbers – or with theories that imply that numbers are wholes – then Guyer (2009) shows that an understanding of their aspects of numbers lies an array of social dynamics that affect their composition. If our composite structure and how it is negotiated is crucial if we are to probe the concealed it is not just economic models that we must unpack but also the numbers that are fed political aspects. Guyer’s (2009) analysis may be useful here not only because it suggests that presented to consumers. and interests. and forces that are masked by these public ideologies of price. So 22 . which itself created further incentives to invest in oil. Furthermore. are diffusely hidden (pp. However. was the composite component that was eventually retailers. 208-210). into them.determined to be the impetus behind the rise. motivations. cultural. financial speculation on the commodity through futures where companies produced socially important economic expertise by (mis)representing the very factors that they were supposed to explain.
Ho (2009) offers a unique view of Wall Street. whereby long-term social institutions have transformed into short-term liquid spaces under the dictates of Wall Street. however. a meritocracy that is based on individuals competing fairly and equally for such highly would amount to a grave neglect of the organisational mutuality that governs this process. I consider “finance” and “financial markets” to be both an idea and a functioning of the economy. As Ho (2009) shows. Her ethnography allows us to understand an aspect of capitalism from the perspective of financial market actors and institutions in mind. The Whitehouse. with a huge bias to recruiting students from Harvard and Princeton. The investment banks actually operate a quota system Candidates are actively poached from these two schools regardless of whether they can demonstrate technical banking ability. and High Financiers economy and in the structure of corporate America. 6 remunerative and prestigious places in today’s society. I now reinterpret Karen Wall Street in an Anthropological Economy that possess a considerable degree of economic and political agency. Wall Street institutions and elite universities maintain for the schools. the divorce of what capitalism. Wall Street. having initially worked there as a management consultant and later through probing her network of financial and economic actors when conducting fieldwork. With this influence that the labour market in high finance operates freely from stringent social ties. For Ho (2009). it implies huge feeder relationships that naturalise banking careers as the main destinations for top graduates of any discipline. Thus. 23 . whereas candidates from other universities lack As with “the market”. we can investigate how people actually use and produce economic ideas and functionings not only on-the-ground but Providence model and pursue the theoretical approaches of value and political economy. a broader view can also be attained of the effects on both the trends in the is in the best interests of corporations from that of employees is a new feature of on a Street that is a well-instituted environment and an icon of modern market capitalism. The Economy. Ho’s (2009) monograph of high finance 6 on Wall Street through the lens of the Eye of Having set out the conceptual framework of this paper. such an assumption If we accept the notion of the market being disembedded from society.
these connections also influence the On the one side. The labour relations and institutions. Meanwhile. Such filtering could not take place without preexisting social ties and dispositions being transposed as conduits onto the supposedly On the other side. 61 & 62). Despite the culture of hard work where green is supposedly the only colour. as there are better opportunities to meet with hard work. bankers were A contrast can be made with this Western view to Hertz’s (1998) monograph of stock market traders in Shanghai. Peoples’ way on the Street is largely already paved by social that can afford an elite education. thus “in China. 26). one could argue for the disembeddedness of the actions of neutral marketplace. once operational. Moreover. directors who themselves graduated from these elite schools. The market is more overtly embedded in the rulings and interests of the ruling power. She shows that the traders interpret the market in political terms. you cannot look at economics without looking at politics” (p. the lines between what constitutes the ruling powers and the financial institutions are much fuzzier. although it does seem that money can still buy status for those latest crisis. that intelligence is not considered a quality of a person but a currency that proves a person’s worth attests to the mutual ties that underlie the dealings in this currency (pp. In Ho’s (2009) book. investment bankers are recruited and constructed through embedded ties of mutuality and are patterned into Wall Street’s culture of “smartness”. the bonuses Glass-Steagall act in the late 1990s that allowed deposit-taking banks and casino banks 7 disembeddedness. 24 . 106-121). This was largely enabled through acts of deregulation by the ruling power 7 that instantiated a greater degree of only able to accrue such high levels of risk and large amounts of wealth by functioning as force might recruit through strong ties of mutuality but. success that one may have once hired. Ho (2009) alludes to this process by mentioning the rollback of the disembedded from concern for society at large. Furthermore. This is exemplified by the case of a talented black woman who left banking because she felt alienated for having paths. African-Americans generally assumed roles that required less networking and The privileged client-facing roles with the large bonuses were mostly earmarked for attended a non-elite school (pp. white upper-class males (pp. 225). these market actors’ given that their greed almost reduced the Street to rubble in the that bankers collected were still astronomically large and unfair (p.the socio-cultural capital and must prove themselves otherwise. 39-72). and compensation. Ho (2009) shows how ethnicity greatly determines career harder work. never mind helping to engender a global recession. while Asians normally ended up in technical or product-focused positions.
This does not engender productive growth but short-term mortgaged productivity that leads to broader economic booms of the interplay between economic ideas and functionings and institutions’ knowledge and practices. these corporations are also pressured – to rationalise the prevalence of rampant downsizing. This is achieved by both acting out and perpetuating particular ideas about the way in which the economy should function. it was not the from the cultural dynamics of Wall Street to adopt downsizing as the general model for workplaces (p. Whatever the case. Economic and financial expertise is used by one group in society to economic expertise as a prized asset that can be exchanged for wealth – usually in the money form – begins to emerge. 293). If we also consider that investment bankers are paid huge sums for their services. markets. 247). and shareholder value movements than other corporations (p. employment (p. 227). and economies (pp. This is perhaps most evident in her illustration downsizing and realigning them to the short-term. A major theme of her book is how the institutions of Wall Street have incredible influence over those of corporate America through encouraging their attend to both the cause. the stock market. nexus of investment banking culture and strategy and the intersections with corporations. Ho (2009) analyses the realign social relations throughout the country. but do not mirror. my model clearly highlights the need to The dialectical mutual constitution of the elements of the model can also be While Ho (2009) purports that “a finance capital-led version of capitalism…is not so to operate as one (p. 136). I would note that in the dialectical embeddedness. as shifts and busts (p. where as power relations suggest how this process may have been enacted. 7). and effect. as the political power through institutions. discerned from Ho’s (2009) monograph. 229). She also mentions how the takeover movement of the 1980s could only occur through deregulation and favouring of private ownership (p.much about disembedding as it is about power relations” (p. Any tension deriving from bankers’ self-concern or concern for company intentionally promoting itself as a community that mystified downsizing but others was reconciled by them resorting to market externalisations – as economic ideas 25 . While Wall Street prides itself on reacting much more quickly to market More specifically. an image of decisions bear a relation to. 34). disembedding describes a process. On the one side. 213-215). through her focus on employment. In this case.
The high 26 .the institutional culture and individual beliefs of bankers. 240). 233). not reification of market dominance” (p. hyping them. Wall Street has not simply reconstructed the banker’s cultural model of themselves as coeval and identified with the market” (p. Moreover. this fetishization of the invisible hand obscures what happens on society (p. that investment banks actually get enrolled in during boom times. Threatened with job cuts even compelled to extract whatever they can out of the present regardless of the cost to investment banks in engendering the subprime boom and the disastrous social consequences that came with the bust. Future ideas about work life. and dually transforming. people actually refer to economic ideas when justifying the undermining of mutuality and of themselves. In addition to past crises. 318-324). the institution of investment banking. and institutional standards. further attests to notion of the creation acting back upon the creators (pp. “the market” since bankers’ “appeals to naturalized market cycles must also be economies and present functionings of economies are shaped by the collective agency of within the well-instituted hub of the world’s financial markets actually operate largely through culture. In this case. Like some sort of religious their own hype. to wit. short-termism. the market principle has become submerged into the organisational structure of investment banking compensation schemes (p. while also expressed through the culture of Wall Street whose members are socialised into this elite world of market-centricity. a site of everyday Ho’s (2009) ethnography is intriguing because it shows that the economic actors global web of risk that they themselves could not decipher” (p. Hence. Wall Street eventually created “a those acting within. and the market trends that they help to engender. italics in original). the other side of the dialectic. bankers are For Ho (2009). She re-imagines the market as a practices as opposed to an abstract concept. Through generating a global market for doctrine. 234 & 235). 260). the role of investment banks in constructing unstable financial markets and jobs (pp. Ho (2009) discusses the substantial role of mortgages by creating various sophisticated instruments. she argues that we should look behind abstracted notions of space of human values. 297-302). the world to its image of shareholder value but has actualised a model that “is [in fact] understood as particular cultural self-representations borne out of everyday Wall Street 252. 242). 321). perhaps to protect the bonus pools of elites (p. emotions. and peddling them around the globe to investors (pp. and rampant-insecurity.
fascinating to also consider that she did not decide to pursue this research. could also be said for their views on the notion of a jobless recovery. Ho (2009) does not explore the huge implications of her argument for the fascinating if she had elicited their take on her theory by perhaps asking whether they considered economic and financial market models and formulas to be relevant. When I became qualified as a stockbroker and investment manager. I read Ho’s between the ideal of shareholder value and the particular version of it that investment (2009) ethnography as an account of financial hegemony and competition over access to interests that are being served. It would have been perspectives of the model. Ho technical and fundamental analysis 8 but was never shown where to look on the graph to ignored the actions of Wall Street that allegedly caused the whole market to bottom out. Asking investments bankers what they thought about the relationship between the actions of Wall Street and the economy at large could have yielded interesting results. not just machines with calculators.(2009) emphasises the importance of anthropological insight in examining these forces. In fact. the notion of economic cycles being produced by Wall Street would not fit into any of the economic models of market cycles that I have come across. as I mentioned above. I spent three years looking at charts of share prices and share indexes to try and establish where the prices were going but This cultural understanding is clearly beyond the repertoire of neoclassical financiers of Wall Street are humans with culture. economics. I was taught how to conduct a combination of watch for the excesses of Wall Street culture. I can now turn to the first of the theoretical approaches. 27 . The distance bankers perform reiterates the need to look beyond the models themselves to the 8 keeping with the Marxist stance that I have highlighted for political economy. since there is no place in them for the “human factor”. The same Having discussed the ethnography from the different methodological The Politics of Shareholder Value in a Finance-led Economy economy and for economics from the perspective of her informants. and Murphy 2010). Langager. Ho (2009) unpacks the notion of shareholder value to show that it is part of a wider scheme on Wall Street to promote its For an accurate and accessible explanation of these two financial strategies see (Janssen. In the new modes of production in the age of neoliberal financialisation. Nonetheless.
culture as the central reasoning and explanation for the restructuring of manner that promotes inequality and prevents a more democratic approach to business firms. the championing of shareholder value was mission-driven and considered economically and morally the correct thing to do. valued for its permanency and role in the community.. which surpasses a mere I would suspect that bankers would instead perceive this unfortunate scenario as company profits go to long-serving employees. I am referring to the contrast of “values” that can be discerned between the stakeholder economies of Japan and Western Europe.S. liquidity. Ho (2009) maintains that shareholder value was beginning informants. While one could interpret this as an instance of the market undermining the value means cutting jobs. now measured by efficiency. 122-129). Ho (2009) unpacks the ethnographic present. shifting concepts of inequality and wealth. the tension is averted because the company has become a necessary evolutionary progression from stakeholder value-orientations to market to society is rendered imperceptible. who in turn U. To understand this phenomenon. Essentially.K. Thus. which leads her to the takeover movement in the 1980s when Wall Street hardened its the plural sociological sense – and establishing values that are more market-oriented.benefits to the economy at large. this entailed supplanting existing values – in During her fieldwork. the former offer more than simply a market rate wage. perpetuated by an origin myth where investment banks provided the capital to allow corporate America to grow. The institutional loyalties of the economic relationship. and U. to engulf U.S. as Gudeman (2009a) might posit. where profits go to the owners of the companies’ shares. The shift was from the old concept of the firm as a social institution. (pp. 26-30). Even when increasing shareholder defined by its owners and not its employees (pp. These self-serving narratives (discussed in more detail below) re-signify the business landscape in a in the U. There is a greater inherent valuation for 28 .S. economy at large. where stakeholder economies create social attachments to firms. with the shareholder economies of the rewards for loyalty and the latter for individual gain. This loyalty is reciprocated from the companies. grip over corporate America. for Ho’s (2009) network of liquid investors.S. and short-term profits. and the condition of the U. The dependency link of the shareholder value-orientations. to the new notion of the corporation as a mutuality upon which it rests.
Thus. this enacted a significant transfer of wealth (2009) argues that takeovers should be understood as power struggles over cultural mergers and acquisitions prevalent in the 1990s were really about high financiers the firm became their interests (pp. as Ho (2009) illustrates with the capitalising on the downturn of the previous decade to align corporate values to those of capitalism. The benefits of this configuration for the few can be discerned when Ho (2009) and financiers of today have learned well from their counterparts of the marginalist revolution. Essentially. Contrary to the worldview of her informants. rather than composites of shareholder value were packaged together and represented in one any conflicting values. and the private equity firm. values and practices that are hierarchical and diverging. Hence. 314-316). caused a example of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler. downsizing. To counter the perceived inefficiencies of managerial long term decline in the value of the target company. and “efficiency”. highlights the representational were more hesitant over the benefits of shareholder value. 29 . Just as values. The company had been operating competitively with plans for growth while the company itself was saddled with a monumental amount of debt. as rewards are given for occupancy and role within the firm. individual achievement and ability (Blim 2005. Ho in capital improvement plans. lower wages. today the until a leveraged buyout (LBO) led to massive downsizing. managers were made into shareholders through LBOs so that the interests of These revolutions in the name of shareholder value often. investment banks. who believed that Wall Street unlocked value and improved efficiency in corporate America. as advocates of shareholder value. 129-153). the economists economic usage of the term – as a market valued share price – that ignores and conceals calls forth the case of Safeway to show the real purpose of creating shareholder value in these contexts.group ties. Although some informants the demands of short-term financial profiteering. paradoxically. were abandoned for price back then. and a reduction from the firm to top company executives. Moreover. the way that her informants none robustly challenged their assumptions and resorted instead to neoclassic explain this tension. she argues that shareholder value must be viewed as a political tactic to monopolise control over corporations and to support power of economic ideas and their utility as political tools. Ostensibly. such as these. Ho (2009) argues that the takeover movement of the 1980s and the the stock market and Wall Street. pp.
as we travel deeper into the realm The manner in which investment banks and their worldview of shareholder value Masters of a Symbolic Universe of Value became institutionalised and then legitimated resonates clearly with the levels of legitimacy that Berger and Luckman (1966) outline. contributions to these unequal transfers of wealth.S. the use of the share price as the rationalisations (pp. 72). brewed its own stock of knowledge to support shareholder value through what Ho (2009) shows to be stock market. shareholder value enables investment bankers to allows Wall Street to maintain its current position as producer of U. If the ruling theory of value may throw light upon these questions. In this view. Here. hegemony (pp.the Marxist analysis of political economy changes that I outlined above. we also begin to see why economic expertise is perhaps such a valued service. in this case comprised of economists and financiers. 35- package their values into a single number and fight for elite interests by forcing market- naturalizes imperialist practices. powers and institutions have cultivated the market economy to their benefit. the 30 . Wall Street also maintains its own hegemony through “[t]he culture of smartness [which] begets global spread. were the minds of the masses won over or coerced into allowing such unequal accumulations of wealth? Combining these transformations with an interpretative control and ownership of firms. Elites created the conditions for financial accumulation through the financialisation of corporate America and by perpetuating neoclassic ideologies that became so pervasive that the very actors who currently carry the flag for shareholder value do not recognise their From the standpoint of investment bankers. and produces financial dominance” (p. flexible representations and 38). justifies global financial influence. Ho (2009) purports that part of the discursive power of the market derives from these abstract. but also on decontexualized extrapolations (and new “a crude reinterpretation of the historical relationships between corporate America. As she argues. The explicit theories of an institutional sector. then how of the human economic mind. This interpretation of events sits rather comfortably with amount of wealth to be transferred to those who access it. 153-168). and investors. since it allows an enormous primary measure of a company was about restoring the “correct” harmony between centric short-term decisions on corporations.
and short-termism. This contradicts general beliefs about corporate history that saw control returned to the shareholder. 169). commitment. There are numerous indications that such a phenomenon exists. to denaturalise bankers’ worldview of shareholder value. while it was actually corporations that financed the growth axioms to fit their worldview indicates how it was able to reach and maintain such a None of these changes could have taken place if they did not occur within a funded the vast majority of their capital expenditure from internal resources up until the constructed justification for institutional practice. this implies a value loyalty are abandoned for shareholder value that. the hierarchy above implies that there are different segregations or 31 . bankers are superior to the average worker. Although shareholder value is in reality a socially upon which its legitimacy rests whereby the shareholder was situated as the original fund provider and controller of corporations. hierarchy. hierarchy where Wall Street’s quick adaptation and flexibility are favoured over slow and rigid firms. Firstly. spheres of value encompassed by the modern universe. and Secondly. and liquidity is preferred to high level of legitimacy. Accordingly. who in flexibility. Ho (2009) contests the myth funds predominantly through bonds issues for most of the twentieth-century and of the stock market (p. the manner in which bankers selected symbolic universe of value. 243-248). a fourth level of legitimacy that also suggests the existence of a system of meaning that Graeber (2005) alludes to. Ho (2009) offers us a vignette of these realms when she shows that the stock market was historically constructed to reality never had it. 343). The values – in a sociological sense – of trust. is a composite that includes notions of liquidity. this universe is characterised by Dumontian Her informant describes Wall Street as a fighter plane when making decisions in comparison to other corporations. She points out that corporations raised early 1970s (pp. represented on the stock exchange. 179 & 202). in spite of the single number power that my discussion in the previous section crystallised.adaptations) from neoclassic and classic economic thought” (p. As Ho (2009) points out. This notably contains and conceals the dimensions of illiquidity (pp. which is perhaps best exemplified when Ho (2009) recounts an interview with an analyst that moved from investment bank Morgan Stanley to Pepsi Corporation. Ho (2009) finds this alarming since the stock price is used as a separate control from ownership in order to create liquidity.
social construction that functions apart from corporations (pp. fanned out into a collection of flat views of this kind” (Dumont 1986. For instance. which might lead to downsizing. This may be a step to fixing the our current economic crisis (pp. In the modern view. a Thirdly. which clearly denotes the superiority of the shareholder by placing 32 . conceptually harder to solely on cash flows and the like. to directly realign and then justify what should be considered “moral”. we do not even make the value judgement Fourthly. Applying this to shareholder value suggests the possibility of alternative configurations. Dumont (1986) claims that in the nonan idea and a pair of values – is rooted in relation to the whole body or a higher level of existence (pp. “valued shareholders”. It makes the inversion. or the economic. contemporary consciousness. while the share price itself is prevent general market fear – operating in a different value sphere – from depressing the price and attracting pressure from investors. stocks are not merely representations since they belong to a divergent the share price – is ill suited to the operations of the firm. then Ho’s (2009) informants have used the scientific. Dumont’s (1986) claim that “[t]he whole has become a heap” resonates with The more that shareholder value gains legitimacy and begins to take on the form of an against share price. Whatever the context. p. share value in relation to some broader social measure. 248-250). these segmented hierarchies of value may be imagined to have varying degrees of attachment to a broader social order. the values of the right hand and left hand – which he invokes to exemplify modern formation that has arisen from the break between the element and the whole. the scientific is replacing the moral in our ideology – if indeed it has not already – “the previous hierarchical universe…[becomes] “shareholder value”. 262 & 263). 183-188). Against Wall retail company could be making lots of sales and performing well but this would not Street’s claims. determining the values of the pair would only entail a look at each of the hands. there is no inversion of values at different levels since everything is measured the word first. Finally.measure of corporate success and value yet the value realm of liquidity – which affects not historically or culturally connected to the practices of the company. such as contributions to modern view. At that over left or right. we need not look beyond the very structure of the phrase point. market mechanisms could be established that increase Certainly. if as Dumont (1986) argues. 249). Rather than determining share price based charitable causes or the level of carbon emissions.
out there informing bankers’ decisions and guiding their preferences towards appear to assume endless forms. While the universal-particular debate dynamics that motivate them. Institutional and political influences played an instrumental role in out of universal self-interested rationality. thus. nurturing or predatory. I have verified that interpretive value theory can speak of both individuals and of societies in the same breath. there can be no value in who the shareholders are. The concept of value that I have been developing appears to have universal applicability – ostensibly due to its interpretive flexibility – yet the manifestations of it shareholder value. these elements of the framework cannot be left economic expertise that has essentially liquidated social relations – both individual and Whether or not one chooses to accept the hegemonic view of the institutions and crafting these values. Hence. as the name implies. This is all made possible through the rendering of instituted financial and unattended. Wall Street is a place framework. It seems that “the masters of the that best suit their financial and monetary interests. are capable of manipulating and oscillating these value structures – by asserting a particular type of economic expertise – into configurations examine a single ethnography in significant detail because it largely conforms to my specific relation to the economic lives of investment bankers.imagine. Summary universe”. On the one hand. I chose to I have tried to show how the Eye of Providence model is useful when interpreting manufacture. This has enabled me to think through the key perspectives of this paper in where people go to make money as individuals. while political economy unearths the 33 . it is hard to doubt that they play a significant role in perpetuating the worldview of shareholder value. On the other. there appears to be a realm of value the ruling powers. forgiving or relentless. existing ethnographic research on powerful market actors and institutions. money is central to peoples’ being on the Street and is also the key product that the financial institutions are structured to institutional – on the Street and far beyond. one could argue that all bankers are really just acting continues into the section below. long-term or shortterm.
3). I point out that since the 1980s. But what happens when we step away from market institutions and toward economic life that flourishes in an entirely different social sphere? To address this question. The migrant-remittance phenomenon is perhaps the most significant 9 institutionalised economic function. 4). I turn the optic to the case of international cash arena for economic rationality. investment banking is very much an institutionalised I began this paper by drawing on theories about the relation of the market to transfers that are sent by migrant workers to recipients who have remained in their of “the market economy”. Mohapatra & Silwal 2010. 10 Given the development potential of $316 billion+. even just the recorded transfers were estimated to be only second to Foreign Direct Investment and were much more resilient during the global downturn (Ratha. See Rapoport and Docquier (2006). p. Thus. I suspect that the transferring agents are much then contrast this with an anthropological perspective through the conceptual operates to principles other than those that we might consider to come under the rubric more distant from the discipline of economics than financiers. the authors I begin with a summary and critique of Rapoport and Docquiers’ (2005) What the Economists Say… their long-run role in development and reducing inequality (p. I first examine how economists try to build expert knowledge about the remittance phenomenon. 11 To introduce remittances. The authors recognise 34 .Migrant Remittances in an Anthropological Economy society and later critiqued an ethnography that offers a view of this relationship from language and think in its logic. while in 9 Against other international flows. Investment bankers were shown to largely talk in its “the market” itself. or at least from the perspective of very influential market actors. there has been increasing acknowledgement in microeconomics of the familial and strategic motives behind remittances. Assuming that remittances are less of a formally and – for some –potentially the most important 10 example of economic activity that origin country. In addition to the cultural influences. 11 The work was prepared for an independent non-profit organisation that researches labour and was later published in a handbook for economics. macroeconomics there has been a shift of focus from the short-run effects of transfers to discussion of migrant-remittance economics. entails dealing with peoples’ actions that operate outside the discipline’s comfort zone. since it framework of this paper.
are a major source of foreign exchange.that poor data quality circumscribes the macro analyses of remittances and that the difficulty in discriminating between competing microeconomic theories makes their Moreover. Rapoport and Docquier (2005) seem to recognise that the money transfers are a composite of categories. a variety of services” (p. while the authors acknowledge more than self-interest. however. They reference a comparative and statistical study from the 1980s that showed migration and remittance decisions to be interrelated but determined by different factors. they present a corresponding set of predicted outcomes that would allegedly 35 . 10). This is essentially a series of complex formulas abstracted for each of the motivations to remit. Remittances are claimed to be remittances from a microeconomic perspective. they emphasise that the method of conducting household surveys from study more challenging. they argue for further investigation since remittances various countries has revealed that a significant percentage of households rely on improve the material well-being of family members in the recipient countries. political. money is used to loans component. authors proceed to present their “theory”. 6). or cultural forces that might In spite of the recognition of these composite structures. and constitute a remittances as an important source of income (p. determine and shape the impetus to remit. an insurance component. 8 & 9). they still assume a complex mixture of motives that “combine an altruistic component. From this and for each women but with no consideration of the social. However. thus. whole collections of motivation. 5). Moreover. suggesting that transfers are not Rapoport and Docquier (2005) begin their analysis by attempting to understand economics is located in individuals’ minds – or more specifically the psyche – of men and values are packaged into single numbers and played off against one another when the materialise if the motivations were combined with different variables (pp. 11-36). an inheritance component. In this view. as with Guyer’s (2009) oil prices. and exchange of individual rationality. which underlies every motive that they inspect. Remittances and Microeconomics large portion of GDP in many of the developing countries to which they are sent (p. often significantly increase GNP. a repayment-of predicated on the characteristics of remitters (pp.
the authors note that the empirical evidence where community characteristics were not overlooked. Might “theory” section by noting that “working with a limited data set makes it impossible to reach any decisive conclusion regarding the underlying motives for remittances” (p. pp. This implies that single-site research is unable to community levels because they only have information from four communities (Rapoport 36 . The solid form of the argument – its simple causeeffect statements – replaces the woolly content. such as: “pure altruism can be singled out as a motivation…[A]ssuming that altruism decreases with time and familial distance. 39). we may as well economists argued that the study was unable to determine the factors that operated at & Docquier 2005.Several claims and hypotheses that are “testable” and relatively straight-forward are contrasted. neglects social determinants of the propensity to remit and underscore two exceptions burn the vast majority of anthropology books published since Malinowski (1922) determine that which operates at the level of community. the size of remittances should be negatively related to these two variables in the altruistic case. Rapoport and Docquier (2005) offer a précis of the However. The first drew on empirical studies that publicised the “proofs” for the motivations and variables used to anthropological material by taking into account the social prestige that is gained for a migrant’s clan when remitting and how this makes insurance contracts – a form of remittance – enforceable. Interestingly. while the disclaimer acts as a caveat in develop their theories. remittances geographic distance” (pp. [U]nder the investment motive. cracks in the woodwork begin to appear when the authors conclude the persuasive power (Gudeman 2009b). 40-48). 37-38). and/or moving costs…[and should] increase with the migrant’s education and with …should…be related to the amounts invested by the family in the migrant’s education Here. in which case. the form of the argument is transmitting a considerable part of its meaning and case the hypotheses are proven wrong in the future. The second study analysed remittances in four different anthropological expertise have a greater use value in this context? It is even more astounding that a later review of the second study by other Mexican communities and returned intriguing findings when “dummy variables” for community membership actually explained much of the variance in the study. In the section that follows.
if competent anthropologists had conducted a comparative extended-case study of the four Mexican communities. and Now that we know what Rapoport and Docquiers’ (2005) “native point-of-view” equilibrium. Further. The economic researchers allude tape measures and spirit levels when what we really need are good old-fashioned familiar institutional environment. effects of remittances on welfare together with the factors that determine migration. Remittances and Macroeconomics amounts to. welfare in relation to international transfers. footnote added). On the short-run side. 50). the immeasurability of data. I predict that a traditional long stint of participant-observation to the necessity of this kind of study but seem incapable of suggesting it. Outside of their hammers and chisels to chip away at the surface and reveal the hidden treasures of cultural forces. I doubt that they would have returned with little explanation. there is less inequality. In short. 12 showing that…[receivers and non-receivers of remittances] may be better off with higher migration rates if lump-sum transfers between residents are available” them with each other in bulk transfers.underlying motives that Rapoport and Docquier (2005) search for. they criticise the research for only which found that “the high-migration equilibrium Pareto dominates the low migration analysing remittances for a certain level of migration and treating this variable as exogenous (pp. The short-run analysis concludes by referencing a study of the 12 37 . we can turn to their macroeconomic analysis. it seems that economists struggle to formulate economic ideas from economic functionings. They have a toolbox full of sophisticated in one community would shine a much brighter light upon the cultural determinants and established our method. 50-53). After outlining some general theories about trade. they endogenous determination of wages and prices…[but that] there is no study on the point out that modern econometric research is “based on a systematic exploration of the short-run effects of remittances” that apply these techniques. and the potential bias in developing countries (p. (p. relative prices. even if it were to be only applicable to those communities. They attribute this to the lack of necessary data. if there are lots of remittances and the recipients share I interpret this as showing that there is less inequality with higher migration. 54.
55). although economics is aware of its past anthropology to prove its worth in collaboration with economists. so obvious. This presents a distinct opportunity for develop more contextualised models for the short-run effects of remittances. It seems that. Rapoport and Docquier Rapoport and Docquiers’ (2005) long-run examination begins with a disclaimer benefits of remittances to endogenous and calculable market transactions (Gudeman microeconomic section to analyse the effects of inequality. 75). as they seek to are not. financial services industry should be developed to better accommodate remittances. Perhaps that states: “it is only very recently that the long-run impact of remittances has been this will lead us to new avenues of exploration and allow us to arrive at conclusions that reformulated in an endogenous growth framework” (p. an economist by trade. pp. in my opinion. 55). it does not currently have the capability to apply the necessary a posteriori techniques. This appears to be a case of economists “cascading” their market models to convert the exogenous socially shared (2005) outline two models that demonstrate that remittances promote investment in physical and human capital and then extend their investment model from the 2009b. With the social now rendered workable. 38 . 66). era – the problems of applying this to the real world have purportedly been known since The problems that the researchers encountered appear to be related to Milberg’s shortcomings in perpetuating universal models. They argue that these reveal that “the growth potential of remittances depends on their impact on productivity and inequality in the origin communities” but concede that the evidence is based on micro data due to the poverty of macro data available (p. but rather in statistics and econometrics” (p. investment of remittances should be encouraged rather than consumption (p.(2009) depiction of the methodological shifts in economics where he argues that the discipline has moved away from the hypothetico-deductivism of the general equilibrium the 70s – to a more inductive methodology. Secondly. For Milberg (2009). the 76). The authors conclude that “remittances tend to have an overall positive effect on origin countries’ long-run economic performance” and suggest two “modest” policy issues (p. which was no longer rooted in rational choice. Firstly. 64 & 65). this has “established a new type of beachhead for economic research across the social sciences.
This is researchers are further abstracting from the evidence – representing and manipulating seemingly how their arguments are constructed. To advance the notion of compensatory remittances. Chami et al (2008) maintain that their ultimate aim is to outline implications for It is intriguing to compare this academic research with that of economists who households’ welfare by lifting families out of poverty and insuring them against income Docquier (2005) as they warn that “literature on the causes and uses of remittances falls remittance determination” (p. the it – in order to establish a degree of supposed correlation between variables. 1). as James Carrier (2009b) argues. 39 . Hence. When doing so. The recommended far short” due to a lack of data and theoretical and empirical consensus. All this apparently points to “a strong for Chami et al (2008) is whether or not remittances are compensatory or opportunistic. they seek more useful for thinking about remittances’ economic impacts” (p. The authors initially appear to have similar concerns to Rapoport and “to establish a useful basis for classifying and distinguishing among theories of are more directly linked to the interests and rulings of the ruling powers. although this should apparently be considered with caution. Moreover.policymakers who may wish to manage the macroeconomic effects of remittances or harness their potential for development.25). Writing for the IMF. they later criticise the categories of motivation that Rapoport and Docquier (2005) use and propose “to reconsider the literature on remittance determination and recharacterize it in a way that renders it that allegedly proves the case of the former parameter (p. 25). Chami et al (2008) present response to [recipients’] currency depreciations”. “interest rate differentials are not a indication that remittances behave like compensatory transfers such as insurance. The authors then reference work that shows the “best evidence” for this question and the results of a regression analysis that shows that “workers’ remittances decrease in significant determinant of remittance flows until after 2001”. The real question research was notably undertaken by two of the authors of this very IMF paper. the simplicity of the form of economic arguments is “potent rhetoric” in itself (p. rather than like opportunistic transfers such as capital flows” (p. and that “income differentials are a highly significant determinant of remittances”. 21). The paper’s findings are said to confirm the main benefit referenced in microeconomic literature: that “remittances improve shocks” (p. Essentially. 27).
effectively Even with their self-confessed partial knowledge. the diversity of life is cropped into convincing and calculable categories that leave the un-captured elements for other social scientists to discover. 13 Geertz’s (1963) ideal of the two disciplines being “joined in a single framework” still seems some way off (p.15). 143). 40 . in this grand neoliberal stalwart. With the intention of improving the long-run development potential countries more investable. how decisions about migration the “anthropology” word. Chami et al (2008) are able to remittances operate from the perspective of the migrants? Unfortunately. Nonetheless. However. 81). or at least under our name. 6). which are mainly its operational roles. Chami et al The International Monetary Fund (2010) offers only careers in “Economics”. “follows a cohort of migrants and their families over time as they face migration. State arriving at the same conclusion as Rapoport and Docquier (2005). In this case. I am not 384). governments around the globe have so far seemed largely incapable of curtailing the (2008) fear that remittances might reduce the political will to make these improvements and suggest that governments may need to be reformed through outside influences (p. This is an incredibly precarious suggestion for poverty reduction. of remittances while preserving poverty reduction. irrespective of the “depth and realism [that anthropology can add] to the more abstract and formal analyses characteristic of aggregative economics”(p. Could anthropologists not be situated in various communities The case for participant-observation is confirmed yet they dare not blasphemously utter through extended-cases in an attempt to understand the value universes within which there is no room for knowledge of our kind. it appears that poverty and inequality that has historically followed the advancement of markets and the uneven accumulations of wealth they bring (Harvey 2005). Given the weak foundations upon which Chami et als’ (2008) policy 13 simply reiterating Marx’s (1867) concern that “[o]ne capitalist always kills many” (p. the study concedes that the current literature is insufficient and that remittance. 30). cross-country longitudinal research must be conducted that: and remittances are actually made” (p. and repatriation issues…and must involve conducting interviews of migrants and family members to determine. they suggest making the recipient offer policy advice. the department where its knowledge is produced. such as through improvements in infrastructure. as closely as possible. and “Other Fields”. However.
It is probably out of their remit to directly recommend political changes. I interpret it as a neoliberal ideological gesture to extend the al (2008). A whole gift economy practically fades into analytical depth. yet they framework of this paper. To address this and to allow for economic functionings are actually part of a moral economy of informal transactions that meet and establish obligations. These that operate within a market economy. continuing through the conceptual that economics cannot seem to capture with its blurry view of remittances and the implications that this might have. The imperial march of economic expertise descends from the ivory towers and probe the various ways in which economic knowledge is constructed by economists. they target values. the gesture is made in a notably de-politicised manner by Chami et 21 & 22). the purpose of this section is to reveal the type of knowledge are not restricted by the same frontiers. whereby the supreme value would become the individual entrepreneur. Yet the economic reports discussed above mention nothing of private property being an obstacle. tries to storm through the streets. Anthropologists can carefully traverse the uneven ground that economists lay. The economic researchers are suggesting that the existing overwhelmingly used for consumption due to the absence of established property rights. rather than the kin group. which makes it practically impossible to invest in production (Hughes & Sodhi 2006. to be transnational corporations that will opportunistically exploit the local labour force. values of the domestic moral economy be realigned to those of the market economy. though. As Carrier’s (2009b) case illustrates. They should not be considered as formal exchanges 41 .recommendation is based. Instead. By recommending that entrepreneurial activity be encouraged through intervention. I restrict my scope to the case of remittances in the Pacific. social domain. the big winners are most likely Nevertheless. Remittances in the Pacific – a case which I discuss in more detail below – are reach of the market. a very different picture emerges to that which economists depict. they do imply that a system of private property rights be established. pp. as economists might prefer. With an anthropological view of remittances. Thus. allowing them to venture much further into the The previous section has demonstrated how an anthropological perspective can Remittances and the Eye of Providence Model insignificance in the world as represented by economics.
One could even argue that it was a blend of these two expansion of wage labour. in fact. 8). Remittances occur transnationally as part of the “ongoing flow of people. – as the three main destinations for 42 . the acts of remittance cannot really been seen a lot less consensus in economics over what these transfers actually are. the state policies of New Zealand. Moreover.S. ideas and so on. Whereas in the case of investment banking. the “economic transaction is only one element… in which the passing of wealth is by either some ruling power or institutionalised practice. As Mauss (1990) would remind us. or market institution. 5). p. there appears to be no Thus. remittances must logically be guided greatly submerged in a galaxy of socially institutionalised constellations of kinship and chieftainship. 9-12). they are. As I will show. interpreting the institutional culture was central to understanding how that aspect of the market operated. due to the informal nature of remittances.formally embedded in institutions – cannot help us here. we must also investigate the political elements of the phenomenon intrinsically. where exchange-through-gift is the only one feature of a much more general and enduring contract” (p. assuming that they do not operate on a purely arbitrary individual basis. The state influences of the origin and destination countries can be considered external forces that act upon migrants and remitters. Nevertheless. Transnational Dynamics of Remittances rule. 13) . p. and the U. goods. between those at home and rapid expansion of Fijian migration that followed three political coups over the last overseas. The former is exemplified by the The political economy of remittances is inherently complex. however. and across the diaspora” (Lee 2009. as the second source. An example of the latter form of influence are the about the interests and rulings of the powers of the origin countries. Australia. What do remittances do? Indeed. pp. the notion of the market – as as strongly related to any market. I can identify three sources of political force that brought migrant-remittances into being through the Pacific migrants – that are shown to have greatly shaped the patterns of migration and remittance (Lee 2009. as the first source. Shareholder powerful representations of remittances that we could compare to the notions of value increases market price. This indicates that we must think twenty-five years (Lee 2009. and of the destination countries. money. Thus. distinct sources of significant influence. it seems that there is neoclassic economic models or shareholder value.
expanding the sphere of political economic obligations (Macpherson & Macpherson transnationalism. wagework was still the most powerful dynamic for social change. as I mentioned when outlining the model. migrants started to One could argue that the ruling power has itself become instituted. Testing the Eye of Providence model in Samoa would return some curious similarities and differences. however. In this context. increasing the size and cost of them to compete for social prestige. kinship and chieftainship structure social organisation production were not significantly transformed by the monetary system in Samoa. Economic “expertise” of the investment banking variety does not feature here. By the 1980s. 43 . which were also used as sites for 14 altered the way in which remittances function. and wage labour as an economic idea and functioning. 61). and conferring chiefly titles. With through which individuals gain wealth for themselves but an “operator” through which There have been substantial changes to these configurations recently that have demonstrations of wealth by chiefs and extended kin. Samoan transnationalism would actually not be what it is without kinship. migrants have elaborated traditional ceremonies. it was kinship. mobilise and shape economic practices. an aspect of the broader external and. communities that transfer money to their homeland. such as those held for graduation. The commitment to kinship is changing in the migrant enclaves. 14 kinship as an institution. as well as system of capitalism. In Samoa. I consider I now briefly discuss the case of Samoa from the perspective of the migrant chieftainship to be a traditional form of ruling power. which is something that I hope the political focus of this paper has emphasised.third source of remittance patterning can derive from the internal political economy of a person’s community. Lilomaiava-Doktor 2009. the lines between the elements are blurry. However. that became the reason and vehicle for 2009. I still believe that it is necessary to differentiate ruling powers from other institutions. as relations are transforming to meet changing needs. thus. social and political statuses. Samoan remittances are embedded in kinship relations just as investment banking is submerged in the marketplace and Wall Street culture. They have also created new ceremonies. 15 This notably counters any assumption that kinship is always fraught by transnationalism. p. land access. Although land tenure and the lineage mode of rather than individual profit maximisation. money is not just a medium social relations are maintained and expressed (Strathern 1975). however. 15 The institution of kinship has itself survived because it is crucial to kinship as the basis.
which causes some the aiga system and began to feel more obligated to kin within the enclaves. As an integral part of this process. 345-362). remittances are much more than migrants’ access to new forms of wealth. which increases demand for remittances back home through the transnational interplay simply cash transfers motivated by a variety of individual drives. Most gifts in the matai ceremony are now cash. while financial expectations from kin continued to grow (Macpherson & Macpherson 2009). then. 61-64). pp. people assessed the costs and benefits of migrants looked after obligations in their homeland. The matai system has itself been effectively bought (Lilomaiava-Doktor 2009. as was evident in an investiture ceremony where chiefly titles were for honours” exemplifies how an indigenous institution is being transformed by titles. redefined the matai chiefly system and the tautua service system. Many community has cultivated indigenous notions of “home” and “reach” that are not On the Samoan island community of Savai’i. This can lead to Strathern (1975) also identified in her study of Hagen migrants in Port Moresby. This 44 . In the case of Samoa. A significant aspect of remittances. where migrants’ kin making demands on them that they struggle to meet. If this process continues. This is something that money acts as a trickster that lures people to the town with an expansionist ideal but then turns out to be a limited good. This transnational accurately described by the dichotomy of “receiving” and “sending” countries. where as in rural areas it is an extra.feel the social and financial pressure of these demands. transnationalism has actually migrants to feel trapped in town because they have not made enough money to return home with and others to feel resentment towards those from home that make such demands (pp. thus adding weight to the matai status. enhance their close family kin group. are the tautua services that people are not simply uprooted but operate as transmigrants. People are using this chiefly institution of personal status. and enrich their commodified. then. There has been increased they contribute to in order to acquire chiefly standings. while nonthat there will be fewer transactions and remittances between Samoa and the migrant destinations (Macpherson & Macpherson 2009). They are dialectically constituted and embedded in the politics of matai and the institution of kinship. it is likely interest in matai recently as overseas transmigrants obtain power and desire chiefly power to accumulate wealth. This Samoan version of “cash of ideas. Money in urban areas is spent on subsisting and maintaining an urban lifestyle.
Articulations of Value Realms 2009. 183). the contra-flows may as well not used as either a gift or a commodity and comprises a substantial amount of the contraflows. While cash is being used increasingly in ritual exchanges. while money only reciprocated. and political complexity of remittances that escape economists’ analyses. and However. even if we were to limit our scope to the material world. money still needs to be accompanied by cloth to be gifted economic analyses described above that only see the value of cloth as its market operates for individuals. shells are shells. The incredible diversity of Pacific communities indicates cannot just be assumed that modernity is homogenous or homogenising. The study of remittances makes explicit the notion that “every exchange. 23). 29). Another consequence of this is that traditional wealth is not try to understand the principles of a gift economy. I do not suggest that that there will be a multitude of different ways that peoples engage with wage labour. It is hard to imagine where the practice of koloa would fit into the inequality. as traditional forms of wealth are rendered valueless. transfers are still part of the broader gift economy. remittance instance. as 45 . Koloa cloth can be overlooked. p. pp. while some remittances may be altruistic and others self-interested. p. accepted. cloth regenerates people culturally. a system of processes that are “marked by a continuous flow in all directions of presents given. cannot be understood in its material terms apart from its social terms” (p. given the The examples that I have listed thus far are relatively broad. These contra-flows have significant value. It divergent meanings that money assumes in different contexts (Bloch & Parry 1989). While money can make things more manageable. yet since economics does way from replacing cloth. Cloth is cloth. it is still a long occur (Lee 2009. as it embodies some co-efficient of sociability. almost all are bi-directional. 43-55). economic. From their perspective. cash is King. which it ranks below in Tongan society. Moreover. In Tonga. state currency income is the index for all remittances in the Pacific function this way but emphasise general trends that begin to show the social. cultural. for aesthetically.reiterates Sahlins (1972) point that economics is a cultural category rather than simply individual motivation or behaviour. We cannot just assume teleologically that money will replace cloth (Addo exchange value or price. obligatorily and out of self-interest” (Mauss 1990.
then.interpret the local definitions and understand remittances from the perspective of economic actors in the origin communities and in the migrant enclaves. there is a need for theoretically-informed ethnography to account of how value is created and destroyed in Gawa. its capacity to expand relations the island and offering part of this self back in the form of remittance. might the act (p. Just as food-giving entails island’s resources – and transacting them across the inter-island community (p. One tactic would now invoke a monograph from an inter-island Pacific community. Nancy Munn (1986) offers an be to apply and expand a theory of value at the level of community to comprehend what well as the resilience that Melanesian communities have shown to state money (Akin & Robbins 1999). as well as the fame of Gawa. where consumption is subordinated to eradicated by money and markets. In this and fame. Clearly. for instance. I Writing from the view of symbolic anthropology. the economic within a hierarchical realm of value. it is highly unlikely that the Gawan value system has since been completely of remittance mean to Gawans in this milieu? As Munn (1986) shows. migration and remittance mean to the current inhabitants. operate externalising the island’s internal resources. I suspect that the current situation is an articulation Pacific Island community of Ponam (Carrier & Carrier 1989). as has been shown to be the case on the the 1970s. 11 & 12). it is reasonable to assume that. As Mauss (1990) would argue. To hypothesise about what such research might yield and to emphasise the strength of ethnographic accounts. 6). Fame is thus produced by externalising the internal elements of Gawa – the activities of Gawans are geared towards increasing the fame – as a virtuality of influence context. 117) – of individuals and the community. migration and remittance expand the web of relations and obligations. What. Although her fieldwork began in of traditional values and capitalist values. for Gawans. outside of the kula trade ring and into a transnational monetary space. transmission. Therefore. “Through it the giver has a hold over the beneficiary” (pp. Exchanges of food. a migrant externalises his self by leaving the person even after being abandoned. as the former creates negative value and the latter positive value. the “thing received is not inactive” because it still possesses something of How might Gawans that stay at home experience long-term migration that then leads to estrangement? Such cases can be considered to generate negative value for the 46 . the value of an act is determined by its potency.
15). dynamics. it is to confuse the elements of a synthesis with the synthesis itself” (p. prescriptions for nations and villages. to generalise from the village-level to the country-level “is to commit the fallacy of composition in an egregious manner. whereby “the positive potentialities of inter-island relations have been subverted into negatives. which are nonetheless produces to fit both state agendas and its own institutional environment. as Lee (2009) since it has its own social system. I hope that Geertz (1963) once wrote that a nation is not simply “the small town writ large”. 28 & 29). much like when there is suspicion of witchcraft. then would Gawans perceive community. Summary concerned that this kind of analysis risks becoming too abstract and could increasingly take on the form of a production of the ethnographer’s mind. If a complex network of people. p. groups powers that may explain the prevalence of such measures. the younger generations of migrants are expected to receive the messages of self-interest and economic individualism (pp. what is the use of “national” statistics? Under my model. by suggesting that researchers incorporate value theory with the Eye of Providence model. and purposes. 30). 142). When constructing micro and macro expertise for remittances. the main point that I have tried to communicate here is that in order to theorise about remittances or about how their patterns might change in 47 . characteristics. They use empirical data from communities in different nations to develop a patchwork quilt of theoretical propositions and models. 220). p. Therefore. witchery is experienced as encroaching from the wider island world” (p. even the practice of calculating economic functionings through under considerable scrutiny (Lee 2009. economists appear to take this flagrant myth to the next level. Given the transnational flows of wealth and ideas measures that rely on the notion of a nation-state – such as GNP or GDP – can be brought and institutions stretch beyond national borders. If. problems. anthropology can help to illuminate the hidden interests of the ruling shadowed by the rhetoric and dominance of economics and the representations that it But more importantly. suggests. which are then used to justify policy that I have highlighted. However.modernity and markets as seductive forms of witchcraft that destroy value by claiming second-generation migrants who choose not to return to the island? One may be they will not “lose touch with the hard surfaces of life” (Geertz 1973a.
expertise 48 . we must locate individuals’ thoughts and actions within the context of the associated socio-political knowledges and practices that frame them.the future. claims to represent. whilst also interpreting the inherent values that shape economic that is more socially-minded is perhaps a more appropriate service to summon. in groupings that give meaning to peoples’ lives (Milberg 2009. begin to tie it more firmly to the actions and thoughts of the peoples that it work constructively with economics to provide a better representation of the social to community. It has missed the social transnational gift economy at large. however small this step might be (Gudeman a marked opportunity for anthropology to contribute to economic expertise and. it has predominantly focused on those institutions that enforce property rights. In societies where money occupies a more social role. 59 & 60). a comparative anthropology that aims to build general theory through ethnography can institutions and internal political dynamics that structure remittances from community behaviour in each locale. Perhaps guided by the framework of the Eye of Providence model. This presents doing so. and included the role of institutions in its analyses. as well as the 2009b). Although the New Institutional Economics has taken a step away from models of rational choice. pp.
with little effect. history of intellectual disputes appears to be characterised by struggles over representation as economic ideas and reality as economic functionings. Paradoxically. Social problems recoveries can been seen as socially good. it is a battle against a particular kind of institutionalisation of knowledge and practice. I do not claim that all economics is purposefully adverse. the To highlight the implications of favouring economic knowledge over other forms. Yet this is more than a crusade against abstraction. I have argued for a greater anthropological understanding of the economy and. such as investment banking and transactions for shareholder value. It has been demonstrated that an investigation into economic ideas and to feed off one another as they mediate between. and individuals. the four functionings should begin by examining the dialectically embedded and constitutive relationships shared with economies. Thus. However. Indeed. and rotate around. economic ideas but it is far from doing this in the case of remittances. are institutionalised with all the necessary 49 Economics tries to institutionalise economic functionings through perpetuating . to reel what is actually going on out there in the real world. have developed a methodological and theoretical framework to assist this venture. A symbolic theory of I revealed indications that economics has been used ideologically and politically to serve the interests of ruling powers. Political economy unearths the dynamics of power that structure economic actors through social institutions and for ruling powers. The more prescribed functionings of the market that I have discussed. institutions. ruling powers.accordingly. the discipline appears to be attempting to change its methods and epistemologies. economics appears to be the discipline most at fault of either losing touch or being unable to grasp much of the seem to appear when particular representations become more important to society than economic world and it is anthropologists who constantly try. which at the very least shows a postmodern sensibility. a broader anthropological theory of value must seek to incorporate these factors if it is itself to produce contextual and meaningful representations of “the economy”. The theoretical approaches of political economy and interpretative value have been shown value helps us understand the meaning of economic life from the perspective of economic actors. Conclusion methodological areas. such as that downsizing and jobless them in and guide them.
In the Pacific. a model that engages with economic expertise – universal. who these representations serve. Indeed. it still must be channelled through a diversity of contexts. even if we assume that rational selfthrough Wall Street’s institutional culture or the plethora of Pacific kinship patterns. should we Perhaps the pertinent question is not whether homo economicus is the natural human condition. although it is still enacted through its own existing institutions. it can offer a better understanding of how nations represent their wealth. This Anthropology may never represent the Wealth of Nations as comprehensively as and calculability over social reality. while their actual undertakings are shown to be predominantly culturally patterned. interest is universal. Misquoting Durkheim. and what is actually being represented in this process. The tension that economics encounters when trying particular – avoids echoing past debates. of course. This knowledge can then be cross-referenced with the perspectives of the economic individuals whose actions are being narrated. the economic eye is trying drastically to grasp a retinal image of the remittance phenomenon but the vision is foggy. Therefore. such as those perpetuated by high finance. That is. Besides.associated levels of economic legitimacy. such as however. But through unpacking economic expertise. My comparative analysis has allowed me to see that the 50 . This difference may seemingly continue to divide scholars. whether focus our efforts on proving or disproving the universality of the underlying motivations economics does. are socially unfair. I predict that economics will continue strongly evidences the power of the discipline of economics in a well-instituted and economy of the Eye of Providence has reached such celestial heights on Wall Street that investment bankers even interpret their actions in classically economic fashion. This should draw economic expertise more closely to social reality. It will attempt to cultivate Pacific peoples’ thoughts and actions upon principles of a market economy. we could think “rationally” in a hierarchical universe of values that or on improving the hierarchy? universal and the particular. or to institutionalise remittances brings us back to the polarised epistemologies of the kinship and ceremonial exchange. general. nor should it endeavour to. The more informal phenomenon of migrantremittance transfers is yet to reach the status of formal institutionalisation in economics. unless economics to aspire to a “mechanical simultaneity” in this unfamiliar territory and privilege control familiar environment. clouded by tradition and non-market principles.
in the Eye of Providence. Over generations. Only then will our economic lives be human once again. then a further implication of worshipping economists’ then becomes embedded in society. If we believe with Geertz (1973b) that the essence of our economic lives. to make the case for our expertise. more than highlight areas for collaboration. anthropologists clearly need to do human eye provides the brain with a representation of reality. Perhaps we should concentrate our efforts more on illustrating how the particular is made to act as though it is universal or general.collaborates more closely with other social scientists and begins to change its theoretical and methodological orientations. how that some have argued for the particularity of universals and others for the universality However. as I have above. it seems contemporary economics represents the world in order to manipulate it. the discipline of economics – with sacred symbols – formulates its own image which reality and the reality itself. namely. Just as the of the particulars. expertise – construing it to be an apt view of reality – is that we deny the human aspect 51 . We must find ways to counter what Keith Hart (2009) calls “a of our humanity is being able to recognise the structural similarity between models of dehumanized expert ideology remote from people’s practical concerns and from their ability to understand” and aspire to more socially-minded representations of the economy.
UK and Massachusetts: Edward Elgar. in Lee. P. June and M. Lynn (1983). Economic Persuasions: Studies in Rhetoric and Culture.html Bloch.Addo.) (1999).).). in Nash. no. Cheltenham. Women Men and The International Division of Labour. David and Joel Robbins (eds. California: University of California Press. Forms of Tradition: Cloth and Cash as Ritual Exchange Valuables in the Tongan Diaspora”. in Hann.). Carrier. Canberra: Australian National University Press. 483-491. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Money and the Morality of Exchange. James (2009a). New York: Doubleday and Company. “Chapter 19: Culture and economy”. 27.). “Chapter 2: Forms of Transnationalism. Jens (2009). The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. in Stephen Gudeman (ed. Peter and Thomas Luckman (1966). James & Achsah Carrier (1989). Migration and Transnationalism: Pacific Perspectives. Akin. A.). Helen and Steven Francis (eds. Ping-Ann (2009). Carrier. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books. 52 . References List Blavatsky. Theosophy. The Market and Society: The Great Transformation Today. http://www. A Handbook for Economic Anthropology. “Ancient Landmarks: Plato and Aristotle”. in James Carrier (ed. Trade and Exchange in Melanesia: A Manus Society in the Modern State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Michael (2005). in Hann. Helena (1939). The Market and Society: The Great Transformation Today. James (2009b). Form and Substance”. vol. Fernandez Kelly (eds. “Chapter 2: Simplicity in Economic Anthropology: Persuasion. “Chapter 13: Market and economy in environmental conservation in Jamaica”. viewed July 12 2010. pp. Blim. Carrier.blavatsky. Berger. Money and Modernity: State and Local Currencies in Melanesia. “Chapter 6: Kitchens Hit by Priorities: Employed Working Class Jamaican Women Confront the IMF”. Chris and Keith Hart (eds. 11. Bolles. Albany: University of New York Press.net/magazine/theosophy/ww/additional/ancientlandma rks/PlatoAndAristotle. Wage.). “Chapter 3: The great transformation of embeddedness: Karl Polanyi and the new economic sociology”. Maurice and Jonathon Parry (1989). Beckert. Chris and Keith Hart (eds.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. in James Carrier (ed. & Montiel. viewed July 19 2008. The Memory Bank. “Chapter 4: Religion as a Cultural System”. Stephen (ed. Chris and Keith Hart (eds. Clifford (1973b). Graeber. Macro Economic Consequences of Remittances. Peddlers and Princes: Social Development and Economic Change in Two Indonesian Towns.org/external/pubs/ft/op/259/op259. “Chapter 2: Necessity or contingency: Mutuality and market”.Chami. Chris and Keith Hart (eds. New York: Basic Books. Keith (2000). Economic Persuasions: Studies in Rhetoric and Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Guyer. The Market and Society: The Great Transformation Today. and impersonal markets: Polanyian meditations”. viewed Jul 21 2010. Clifford (1963). David (2005). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.imf. C. violence. Barajas.uk/book/chapter-5 Gudeman. Cosimano. “Chapter 1: Thick Description: Toward and interpretative theory of culture”. 53 . “Chapter 9: On Value.co. The Market and Society: The Great Transformation Today. occasional paper 259. fictions. Gudeman. Jane (2009). R. A.ac.esrcsocietytoday. Annual Report and Accounts 2008-2009.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/about/CI/accounts Geertz. Modern and Nonmodern”. Geertz. Hann. http://www. in Hann. in Hann.).). Gapen.) (2009). “Chapter 5: The Market From a Humanist Point of View”. UK and Massachusetts: Edward Elgar. M. “Chapter 7: Debt.pdf Dumont. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. International Monetary Fund. T. Hart. http://thememorybank. and risk: toward an ethnography of price”. Fullenkamp. Geertz. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books. Chris and Keith Hart (eds. New York: Basic Books. http://www. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Clifford (1973a). The Market and Society: The Great Transformation Today. “Chapter 11: Composites.). The Market and Society: The Great Transformation Today. Economic and Social Research Council (2009). in Hann. A Handbook for Economic Anthropology. Chris and Keith Hart (eds. P (2008). “Chapter 27: Value: anthropological theories of value”. Graeber. David (2009). Essays on Individualism. in The Interpretation of Cultures. Stephen (2009a). Louis (1986). viewed 1 May 2010. in The Interpretation of Cultures.) (2009b). Cheltenham.).
David (2005).). “Chapter 4: Kinship and Transnationalism”. Ho. 54 . Migration and Transnationalism: Pacific Perspectives. Helen and Steven Francis (eds. Revue du MAUSS permanente. California: Stanford University Press. “Chapter 3: Samoan Transnationalism: Cultivating ‘Home’ and ‘Reach’”. C (2010). Miami. Canberra: Australian National University Press. C.php?article604 Harvey. Malinowski. Helen and Gaurav Sodhi (2006). Argonauts of The Western Pacific: An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. Helen and Steven Francis (eds. and Murphy. Duke University Press. Langager. Bronislaw (1922). Lilomaiava-Doktor. “Should Australia and New Zealand Open Their Doors to Guest Workers from the Pacific? Costs and Benefits”. Kirsch. Ellen (1998). Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea. C. in Lee. Technical Analysis”. Karen (2009). Tuff Gong Pictures.. The Trading Crowd: An Ethnography of the Shanghai Stock Market. “After the Crash : A Human Economy for the 21st Century”. preface by Sir James Frazer. in Lee. Durham and London. http://www. Canberra: Australian National University Press.). “Technical Analysis: Fundamental Vs.investopedia. Sa’iliemanu (2009). Investopedia ULC. Helen and Steven Francis (eds. video recording.asp Lee. Stuart (2006). “Chapter 1: Pacific Migration and Transnationalism: Historical Perspectives”.journaldumauss. Migration and Transnationalism: Pacific Perspectives.). Canberra: Australian National University Press. “Careers at the IMF”. Janssen. Macpherson. viewed July 21 2010. Life and Debt (2001). Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://www. Kingston.net/spip. Migration and Transnationalism: Pacific Perspectives. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Cluny and La’avasa Macpherson (2009).org/external/np/adm/rec/job/careers.imf. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and New York. viewed August 12 2010. pp. http://www. International Monetary Fund (2010). 3rd ed.Hart. Keith (2009). CIS Policy Monograph 72. Centre for Independent Studies. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street.com/university/technical/techanalysis2. 7-26. Helen (2009).htm Hughes. viewed 22 July 2010. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Hertz. in Lee.
Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty. Marshall (1972). “The Economics of Migrants’ Remittances”.C. Moscow: Progress Publishers. Karl ( 1887). S and Silwal. http://www.pdf Ong. in Stephen Gudeman (ed. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy Volume I. Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity. 2. Book One: The Process of Production of Capital.org/dp1531. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books. 2nd ed.pdf Sahlins. money. 55 . The Gift: the Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. Munn. Hillel and Frédéric Docquier (2005).pdf Milberg. Chris and Keith Hart (eds.). London: Cambridge University Press.). Amsterdam: North-Holland.marxists. Rapoport. in Hann. “Chapter 5: Toward an alternative economy: Reconsidering the market. and value”. Hillel and Frédéric Docquier (2006). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Marcel (1990). A (2010). Marx. William (2009). World Bank. Nancy (1986). Mauss. and Altruism. “Chapter 4: The New Social Science Imperialism and the Problem of Knowledge in Contemporary Economics”. Mercier-Ythier (eds. Giving. Jean-Michel (2009). viewed 19 July 2010 http://ftp. Durham.iza. Discussion Paper No.org/INTPROSPECTS/Resources/3349341110315015165/MigrationAndDevelopmentBrief12.Marcus. N. in S. “Outlook for Remittance Flows 2010-11”. Aihwa (2006). Servet. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Economic Persuasions: Studies in Rhetoric and Culture. Mohapatra. D. Rapoport. The Fame of Gawa: A Symbolic Study of Value Transformation in a Massim (Papua New Guinea) Society. Anthropology As Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment in the Human Science. Vol. London: Routledge. Ratha. viewed July 20 2010. http://siteresources. “Chapter 17: The Economics of Migrants’ Remittances”. Institute for the Study of Labor (Germany). Stone Age Economics. Kolm and J. 1531. C.). The Market and Society: The Great Transformation Today. Chicago & New York: Aldine-Atherton Inc. George E and Michael M J Fischer (1999). : Duke University Press.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Capital-VolumeI.worldbank.
in Hann. http://www. The Market and Society: The Great Transformation Today.S. Port Moresby: New Guinea Research Unit. viewed 24 June 2010. Colorado: Westview Press. Marilyn (1975). Richard (1996). Philippe (2009).gov/documents/organization/27807. No Money on Our Skins: Hagen Migrants in Port Moresby. “Chapter 4: The critique of the economic point of view: Karl Polanyi and the Durkheimians”.). pp. Wilk. 61. The Great Seal of the United States.state.pdf Strathern. U. Economies & Cultures: Foundations of Economic Anthropology. Department of State (2003). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 56 . New Guinea research bulletin no. “Chapter 7: Money: operator and trickster”. Australian National University.Steiner. 300-362. Chris and Keith Hart (eds.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.