J. Kahn- Week 5- systems of exchange

There were a few different types of exchange systems we discussed in class, including hunter/gatherer, horticulturist, agriculturalist, and industrialist.  Within a hunting and gathering group, members subsist by hunting animals and gathering fruits, vegetables, and other edible foods.  Within this type of exchange system, there is no stratification, and the group is relatively small, composed of a family to a few families.  Labor mostly includes hunting and gathering and is largely egalitarian.

Within a horticulturist exchange system, there is an active role of the members in actually growing food and or raising animals.  There is more stratification, and the members are ranked according to status.  Some higher ranked members of this type of society may determine what amount of food or resources other members have access to.  Many members of a horticulturalist society are responsible for growing food and or tending to animals.  An agriculturist society is similar, however it entails even more intervention and control of food growth systems.  There are concerted efforts to divert water into agricultural lands so as to ensure that plants get enough water.  Also, pastoralism is allowed for in this type of system, often times more intensively than in a mere horticulturist society.  With greater food production comes also greater stratification of labor and power, and governments with systems of law are spawned.  Rather than a more tight group of relatives, agriculturalist systems allow for more diverse and more numerous amalgamations of people that live together.  It is also typical for larger cities to arise.  Labor is even more divided as well.  Many people depend on agriculture, however with the advent of the surplus, more roles for labor develop as well, such as artisans, merchants, and aristocrats.  Within agriculturalist societies, there may be different types of trade amongst members and other cities or groups, including monetary systems, barter trade systems, and reciprocal gift giving.  Gift giving is also common even between and within hunter gatherer and horticulturalist groups.

The last type of society is an Industrialist one.  Within industrialist societies, there is even more stratification than ever in terms of both labor and power.  With more dense population center, increased government power  arises.  Different production roles are very specialized and do not overlap nearly as much as they do in other types of societies.  Currencies are the dominant form of exchange and dictate economic operations.  Still, gift giving is very common, and reciprocity remains the social norm.  While monetary currencies are the main form of exchange within industrialist societies, sometimes currencies will break down and fail, necessitating a return to a barter system, in which people depend on exchanging goods for goods, or maybe, goods for services.  Within an industrialized society, since there are so many laws to regulate citizens and economic activity, a shadow economy may also arise, in which people buy and sell goods without the oversight of the greater system of law that is regulating other economic activity in the society.  Within the shadow market, people buy and sell multitudes of different things, some being commonplace items, some being illicit items such as drugs, weapons, animals, or other banned goods such as ivory.

5 thoughts on “J. Kahn- Week 5- systems of exchange

  1. I think the biggest difference between the Hunter Gatherer and the Agriculturalist systems is the fact that the Agriculturalists are so much more established in one specific space. With growing crops and manicuring the land, there has been too much work put in to simply move onto a new location whenever there isn’t a meal one night. This allows for more comfortable living when times are good but the ability of the Hunter Gatherer to move their entire kin to a new location when times are bad is something that the agriculturalists and the industrialists could not do. The less mobile parties may be more secure, but they are also more susceptible to bad seasons where crops don’t grow. With Hunter Gatherers, a family having more than two children under the age of five slows down the entire community, whereas in Agriculturalists societies where movement away from home is not encouraged, having six or more kids means that you have six or more people working and pulling a share of the load. It is interesting to me that these systems perpetuate themselves, and it is interesting when a society switches from one system to another.

  2. I find it very interesting how over time, life has evolved in ways that we can not imagine. How we went from being hunter/gatherers, roaming the earth hunting for food and collecting crops and other edible plants, to what we have now become industrialists, where we use trade and other mechanism to obtain foods and goods. out of all four systems, the two that I feel are the most efficient are those who were agriculturalists, and what we are today as industrialists. Agriculturalists relied on using the land and soil they had to have the ability to grow crops for food and to raise animals to get food. They were very efficient in obtaining food because usually they would travel to places with soil that was near water or a river because it would help their crops grow better and more efficient. You really touched on a lot of good points about each type of exchange systems.

  3. Hi, I really like your give a little focus on the stratification, and I think it is the main reason why there is an exchange system that people start to want more things. Also I really enjoy your post that you put a lot of detail when talk about agriculturist and industrialist, and your comparison between the horticulturist and agriculturist that I also think it is really similar, I even think that agriculturist is just a upgrade version of horticulturist, with more system in place that really focus on the outcome, rather than horticulturist nowadays that normally people do some work in the garden just for fun and their own enjoyment. I think when we talk about industrialist, that’s some real deal with the exchange system that ultimately that everything made for exchange and people work for exchange, nearly nobody is working for their own stratification anymore, that’s really interesting for me.

  4. I think this is a really good post because you describe the differences between different kinds of exchange systems clearly. From your post, I can see you pay a lot attention on the stratification. I think this is a good view to see these exchange systems. For example, different exchange systems have their own kinds of stratification. Stratification in industrialist is way more complex than it in hunter/gatherer. Because the stratification become more complex, the division of labor become more complex and the exchange systems become more complex. Every one of these part can affect the whole exchange system. In addition, I think there are one more difference between hunter/gatherer and horticulturist. People who live in hunter/gatherer did not have a permeant living place. Because the animals were moving, so people have to moving with animals. However, people who live in horticulturist have a permeant living place because they knew how to grow plants so they did not need to move with animals.

  5. At the beginning, this passage has very well structured and logistically concluded the different systems of exchange – hunter gatherers, horticulturalists, agriculturalists, pastoralists, and industrialists, according to the lecture and other related references. For instance, ‘Within a hunting and gathering group, members subsist by hunting animals and gathering fruits, vegetables, and other edible foods. Within this type of exchange system, there is no stratification, and the group is relatively small, composed of a family to a few families’. Furthermore, the writer also depicted the how these different systems of exchange works in the society as well as how the factors such as culture, society, and environment affect and determine those exchange systems. Overall, the writer has clearly reviewed the many different systems of exchange – hunter gatherers, horticulturalists, agriculturalists, pastoralists, and industrialists, and logically analysis the exchange system working within the society in terms of labor and power, law and currency regulations.

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