- Special projects (requires login)
Mills 169 (A26)
Monday, August 27, 2018
Available at: http://anthro.rschram.org/1002/5.1
Positive thinking has deep roots in Western culture, going back to the Enlightenment:
Yet there has also been a critical tradition in Western culture which has been skeptical of this.
Doctor Pangloss believes:
For Doctor Pangloss, there is no other way that things could turn out
Marx offers us a theory of capitalism as a product of history. Marx's goal was to predict what would happen to capitalism, and what ultimately would lead to its demise. He argued that capitalism, like any social system, is defined by its contradictions. The contradictions of capitalism would eventually overwhelm it. This perspective has helped scholars to understand how capitalism has changed in the 20th century.
As Fordist production expanded over the 20th century, capital also puts pressure on states to liberalize trade and investment across borders, so that it may invest in cheaper processes (or offshore and outsource some aspects of production to places with lower wages). Production as well as consumption is globalized, and this requires new methods of production which are more “flexible.” A post-Fordist model is born: Lots of little shops competing for a number of different small jobs for big companies.
The globalization of capitalism does not mean that once isolated societies become integrated into a single global system. We have already seen how gift systems adapt to their contact with global markets. Global capitalist firms and the global system as a whole also depends on the maintenance of this alternative as a means of reproducing labor it can exploit.
One of the ways societies respond to market forces is by placing limits on individual choices
Market-driven societies also place some kind of moral limit on profit as well
Certain kinds of value remain embedded in social relationships while other kinds are able to be commodified, bought and sold. Is M-C-M' itself immoral?
We can apply the same kind of thinking to the relationship of wage labor, which is based on exploitation. Workers often find ways to collectively resist the extraction of surplus value
Many of these and similar tactics were also used by workers in socialist firms so that they could subvert the control of managers.
Of course, from another perspective, resisting control of labor or limiting market forces are bad for moral reasons:
An either-or distinction is a dichotomy.
An opposition between individual self-interest and the collective force of a social norm, like reciprocity, is one example of dichotomous classification.
Many societies see their own involvement in markets in terms of this dichotomy. Their ideology focuses on the dilemma - a choice between opposed ends - posed by trading: Do I earn for myself or give help to my neighbors and kin?
Hochschild, Arlie Russell, and Anne Machung. 1989. The Second Shift. New York: Penguin Books.
Kahn, Miriam. 1986. Always Hungry, Never Greedy: Food and the Expression of Gender in a Melanesian Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mazelis, Joan Maya. 2017. Surviving Poverty: Creating Sustainable Ties among the Poor. New York: New York University Press.
Prentice, Rebecca. 2015. “'Is We Own Factory:' Thiefing a Chance on the Shop Floor.” In Thiefing a Chance: Factory Work, Illicit Labor, and Neoliberal Subjectivities in Trinidad, 87–110. Boulder, Colo.: University Press of Colorado.
Shehata, Samer S. 2009. Shop Floor Culture and Politics in Egypt. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press.
Shipton, Parker. 1989. Bitter Money: Cultural Economy and Some African Meanings of Forbidden Commodities. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association.
Stack, Carol B. 2008 . All Our Kin: Strategies For Survival In A Black Community. New York: Basic Books.
Voltaire. 2006 . Candide, or Optimism. Project Gutenberg. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19942/19942-h/19942-h.htm