ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Scales, Tales and Tools

Anthropologists perceive that culture and economy are made up of multiple and sometimes inconsistent value domains. In the cost-benefit world, all values belong to a single sphere and can be compared on a seamless scale so that socio-economic choices can be made - the thesis of commensuration. In contrast, anthropological comparison suggests that people do not always commensurate in everyday life, and employ other tools for making social selections. This paper focusing on the assumptions and the economic world that cost-benefit analysis invokes, begins with an anthropological model of the economy and some problematics of the cost-benefit procedure, using some ethnographic tales to illustrate the problems and closes with suggestions for ways cost-benefit analysis might be used.

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