Economy in an Arapesh Society
Karl Polanyi means that even though there is no such term as “economy’ in noneconomic institutions, it still has economic activities, but only much harder to identify. That only the concepts of economy and not the term “economy’ (which was coined only 200 years ago by a group of French thinkers) itself are being used in these institutions. The goal in these institutions is not to get wealthier, but to achieve other things, like stronger relations and kinship.
The economic activities are mbedded in the society but not for profitable economic reasons or a measure of wealth, like they are in the modern society. For example, how economic elements are set in use in different social relationships of a non-economic character like it is in the Arapesh society. In a disembedded economy, also known as market economy, the exchange has a different procedure and value. You do not trade potatoes for tomatoes because both sides of the trade are in need of what the other part offers, rather, you use money as a medium of exchange.
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So, money has a big value in a disembedded economy compared to in an embedded economy. Because of this, the goal changes from building relations and kinship to get more money to be able to buy what you want. Instead of trading goods for goods, money is being traded for a desired product. One of the results of a disembedded economy is specialization, meaning that different people end up producing different things and trade for money and then use the money to buy what they want.
This is compared to a isembedded economy, where people produce what they need and trade their products if they want something they do not have. Because of the different ways of exchange in an embedded and a disembedded economy, people exchanging products in an embedded economy are most likely to have some kind of a relationship, while in a disembedded economy you do not need to know the person you are dealing with. The Arapesh people do not perceive the economic activities embedded in non- economic institutions (like the Arapesh society) as economy or exchange.
But they still participate in economic activities. They base their economic activities around the necessary steps of survival by giving each other what they bring home from a hunt or what is left after they build their house. Eating what you kill yourself is seen as crime in the Arapesh society. So within the society, one gives to others and others give back. This is to tie the community together and is seen as means of kinship and building relationships, and a very effective way of preventing divisions within the society. If an
Arapesh man gives his brother a dead bird to eat, he does not expect anything back in exchange right there and then, or later, but he will always get something, because of the rules of the society. So, they do not have the idea of an economy even though you can see economic activities in their society, and they do not need it because it does not apply in any useful way. There is exchange in the Arapesh society, it is Just by different rules than the rules of exchange in a modern society with a disembedded economy. In our modern