The Polanyi School of Anthropology on Money: An Economist's View1


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    I would like to thank my colleague in the Anthropology Department, Munro S. Edmonson, and the editor of this journal, Ward H. Goodenough, for valuable comments.


This paper questions the popular anthropological assumption that all purpose money rules in the West today. Contrary to the followers of Karl Polanyi in anthropology, modern as well as primitive money is special purpose money. It is argued further that serious difficulties and confusions arise from indiscriminate use of the term money to refer both to (1) media of exchange and means of payment and (2) units of account. Lastly, the scholarship and perspicacity of the Polanyist verdicts about economists' views in the area of money is disputed.