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Surplus approach and economic anthropology. Un nuovo WP

Summary:
Heterodox economics and economic anthropology: reflections prompted by two books Working paper N. 807 Luglio 2019 Sergio Cesaratto DEPS, USienaAbstract This paper has been long ago inspired by Jared Diamond (1997) and, in particular, by his extensive use of the concept of economic surplus as the key to the development of civilization. Unfortunately, Diamond does not even mention the origin of the concept in classical and pre-classical economics. Moreover, Diamond does not pay any consideration to the long debates in economic anthropology on the role of economic analysis in studying primitive and ancient economic formations. These debates are instead the object of a more recent book by Cedrini & Marchionatti (2017), who context the neoclassical “imperialist” attempt to occupy

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Heterodox economics and economic anthropology: reflections prompted by two books

Sergio Cesaratto
DEPS, USiena
Abstract
This paper has been long ago inspired by Jared Diamond (1997) and, in particular, by his extensive use of the concept of economic surplus as the key to the development of civilization. Unfortunately, Diamond does not even mention the origin of the concept in classical and pre-classical economics. Moreover, Diamond does not pay any consideration to the long debates in economic anthropology on the role of economic analysis in studying primitive and ancient economic formations. These debates are instead the object of a more recent book by Cedrini & Marchionatti (2017), who context the neoclassical “imperialist” attempt to occupy the territory of economic anthropology. They rely, however, upon the frail institutionalist background provided by Karl Polanyi and his school and by other anthropologists of similar inspiration. In so doing, they fail to provide a robust economic basis to institutional change, by firmly anchoring it around the changing modes of generation and distribution of the economic surplus. These notes are explorative, as also shown by a post-scriptum. Comments welcome.
 
Keywords
Surplus approach, Economic anthropology, Marx, Sraffa, Polanyi
 
Jel Codes
A12, B51, B52, Z1
Sergio Cesaratto
Sergio Cesaratto (Rome, 1955) studied at Sapienza, where he graduated under the direction of Garegnani in 1981 and received his doctorate in 1988. He obtained a Master's degree in Manchester in 1986. He worked as a researcher at CNR where he was of Innovation Economics. In 1992 he became a researcher at La Sapienza, and then associate professor in Siena where he teaches Economic Policy and Development Economics.

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