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Economic Anthropology

Folk and Scientific Concepts in the Study of Greed

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Abstract

The distinction between folk and scientific concepts in anthropology is reviewed in this article. As an Anglo-European folk concept, greed is often a moral judgment; it is therefore the product of a folk system. As such, it is argued that greed is not a scientific concept. The assignment of greed to social and/or economic acts implies concepts of production, exchange, and accumulation. The scientific concepts for economic production and economic exchange are presented. Industrial production when combined with the market principle provides a distinctive context for the judgment of greed. Two sets of folk rules, which are applied to cases of accumulation, justice, and development, are suggested. A strategy for generating a scientific study of greed is proposed.

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