Conceptual Issues in the New Economic Anthropology: Moving Beyond the Polemic of Neo-classical and Marxist Economic Theory

  • Willie L. Baber


I have been concerned about the limitations of neo-classicism, and the advantages of a Marxist1 dimension in the analysis of social change, primarily because of an unrelenting and uncritical expansion, in the social sciences, of various forms of neo-classical theory and its postulates.2 None of us is surprised to find sociological analogues of neo-classical economic theory, or postulates, generated in the works of Homans (1958, 1967), Belshaw (1965, 1967), Barth (1966, 1967 and 1981), Schneider (1974), or Prattis (1973) to name a few often-cited examples. However, the ever expanding use of neoclassical economic theory is also augmented by some Marxists (Godelier, 1972, 1977; Sahlins, 1972; Hindess and Hirst, 1975) who would correctly acknowledge Marx’s critical incorporation of the classical political economy of Ricardo, yet unwittingly insist on trying to refute important neo-classically derived propositions about economic behaviour. I believe that this trend should be questioned. Marx did not contest the validity of market value, nor supply and demand, which forms the basis of what we may refer to as neoclassicism.


Conceptual Issue Historical Materialism Marxist Theory Labour Theory Neoclassical Economic Theory 
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© John Clammer 1987

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  • Willie L. Baber

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