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Title: Gifts and commodities : a critique of the theory of 'traditional' and 'modern' goods, with particular reference to Papua New Guinea
Author: Gregory, C. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1980
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The fundamental question that a theorist of development must come to terms with is 'What distinguishes the European-type countries such as England, U.S.A, Australia, etc. from the non European-type countries such as Papua New Guinea, Burma, Tanzania, etc.?' Neoclassical theorists of development answer this question in terms of the distinction between 'traditional' and 'modern' goods. This distinction, as the term 'goods' suggests, is based on subjective a-historical criteria; it is developed within a framework of analysis that views economic activity as the process of maximising an individual's utility subject to constraints. This thesis aims to develop a constructive critique of this approach. It provides an alternative answer to the fundamental question by developing a synthesis of the theories of Marx, Sraffa, Mauss and Levi-Strauss (among others). This approach enables the development of a distinction between gifts and commodities within a framework of analysis that focusses on social relations of reproduction of things and labour. This distinction has an objective historical basis, a gift being defined as the social form that things and labour assume in a clan-based society, and a commodity being defined as the social form that things and labour take in a wage-labouring class-based society. This distinction, it is argued, enables the development of theories that have superior descriptive and explanatory capabilities. This is illustrated by examining the statistical and anthropological evidence from Papua Now Guinea.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available