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By Emily Chamlee-Wright

Chalmlee-Wright argues that foreign relief programmes have usually been unsuccessful simply because they're imported. The economics of the Austrian institution offer a miles more suitable theoretical framework that can introduce cultural research into questions of monetary improvement and different marketplace techniques.

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Extra resources for Cultural Foundations of Economic Development: Urban Female Entrepreneurship in Ghana (Foundations of the Market Economy)

Example text

Polanyi stated that only in market societies will scarcity be present. Thus, only the substantive meaning of “economic” matters to empirical investigations of pre-industrial society. In response to Polanyi, two points need to be made here. First, most societies exhibit all three forms of integration to one degree or another. Markets do not control the distribution of all resources in advanced Western society. Accelerated tax rates, charitable organizations, and family obligations speak to the redistributive and reciprocal forms of integration operating in this context.

Such implications are explored in detail elsewhere (Kolakowski 1978). For our purposes here, the significance of the subjectivist turn rests with the recognition that the value or meaning of objects presented in the physical world must be interpreted by the human subject. Human beings impute value to goods and services in accordance with their perception of how such goods and services will satisfy their wants. Further, the value attached to any particular unit of the good or service will depend upon the context in which the human decision maker finds herself.

Since economic analysis generally takes preferences as given, the forces which shape those preferences tend to be of little interest. This position assumes that once preferences are formed, they play a neutral role in the market process. Yet, if cultural influences promote distrust for one’s fellows as the basis for wise business practices, we can expect that the costs of acquiring credit are higher in this case than in cultures where trust is the initial response. The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh has used the trust and shared sense of mutual obligation present among women in that culture to generate a 98 percent loan recovery rate from their practice of group-lending (Wahid 1994).

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