X. Fu – Week Five – Systems of Exchange

As we know that human society relies on specialization to achieve the maximum benefits, exchange sure becomes a mean way for people to make livings. Thinking about several hundred years ago, when values of goods were not those numbers in the banks’ system, even not paper money we use daily, there were plenty forms of exchanges existed. In the beginning, we trade directly with goods, like a sheep for some clothes. Then we found shells which were pretty rare back in ancient times as money to wipe out the uneven exchanges, breaking them down to smaller fractions. Then we experience heavy minerals such as copper, silver, and gold. For all those history, people were seeking to an efficient way to exchange. Which leads us to a conclusion, that exchange has been one of the most vital elements of human society.

If you think, there must be some objectives to be exchanged to do the value trade; you are wrong. Unexpectedly, human labors are also means to exchange. Observed even from the early time, people see the value of labor. Your work grants your goods that were promised. From peasants to mercenaries, the labor force was admitted and valued. However, it wasn’t always exchanged when you do the work for yourself. For example, farming in your own land to grow crops, cleaning your own house to keep it running. These labor were also valued but not exchanged. On the other hand, these doesn’t dismiss the importance of labor in the system of exchange. If non-labor was ever involved, there wouldn’t be any good for people to exchange. Simply, no production, no exchange. It is clear that no matter in any currency, from shells to bank accounts, the exchange itself is the trade of labors, the value human produced through working.

In the modern age, people invented brilliant means to exchange, making it much more efficient and easier. However, we also witness environment and culture connecting with it. In the lecture video 5.1, many interesting ways were introduced. American families in the west coast got higher social status when they produced more food. It was viewed as a reciprocal way to exchange, said the author. That is, it entails the exchange of goods and services between two parties, and these exchanges are made to satisfy material needs and also leads to solidification of social relationship. This gives the exchange a new meaning among not only goods. At this moment we can extend our definition of the word – exchange.

After all, The exchange system is a great invention that human deal with the complicated values that valued by different people. However, it has created a somewhat uneasy life for those who lack the skills needed. For These people, complications and hardships of the life they fear can be resolved by hard workings. And the different systems in the exchange is a benefit associated with the production and distribution of their society and culture. The existence of exchange is better for human beings and helps build a better world.

3 thoughts on “X. Fu – Week Five – Systems of Exchange

  1. I think you had potential to have a great blog post, but I found myself wanting more, and that your lacked the required portions of the post.
    I was really intrigued when reading the first few paragraphs, but you didn’t really mention any of the specific exchange systems that we discussed like reciprocity (a system of exchange based on obligation for social and economic gains like the Kula Ring, gift giving, or the Potlatch community), bartering (trading items without currency—less of a relationship formed), market exchange (no relationship whatsoever; purely based on supply and demand; this is the system seen in the U.S.), redistribution (the collection of a good or currency by a central government or figure to then hand out according to social rules and norms. An example is taxes), or shadow economies (economies that come up due to rules that prevent certain activities. There is little regulation and these systems are often illegal such as drug trade or the black market).
    You did, however, talk about the exchanging of items before money, which could count as the bartering system, and you briefly mentioned reciprocity by trying to mention the Potlatch community.
    You also failed to mention labor at all really, or what it does in terms of systems of exchange and how important it is. Without labor, in all forms, systems of exchange would not exist, but labor is valued differently and has different functions for different systems.

  2. Pastoralism has its pros and cons like most subsistence systems. One con that I want to briefly dig further into is the secondary characteristic of warfare and invasion. I would assume that pastoralist society is patriarchal since it is traditionally the role for men to practice animal husbandry. Valuables would have to be portable since migration seasons occur often. So assessing both property acquirement and sustainable living methods, the transhumance nomadic lifestyle of a pastoralist can be either gained by force or choice. Since their environment is dependent on animal domestication and grasslands for settlement, this makes them susceptible to warfare. Animals would be considered property by means of survival rather than trade. Land diminishes when climate and weather conditions are factored which means the idea of supply and demand or production and distribution become extremely limited resources. Does this make a pastoralist’s lifestyle more adaptable or transitional if their society were to die out?

    Hassan, Ibrahim Rashid. “PROS AND CONS OF PASTORALISM IN AFRICA.” Articlesbase.com. Articlesbase.com, 13 May 2010. Web. 07 Aug. 2016. .

  3. I really enjoy what you post and agree with your opinion. I also write about different exchange forms. The forms of exchange were changed with time going by. Before the currency appear, barter exchange is the basic patterns, at that time, profit is not appear, because there is no clear criteria for value standard. So with currencies appear, item value with a clear standard, and the forms of exchange also expanded, not only for items, but also in our daily life, for example cultural integration is a kind of exchange, different culture give people better feeling of life. Different social groups exchange their fruits of labor, like famers produce food for workers and us helps people to build houses. Different social groups maintain social balance together. All actives are belongs to exchange, and all is for build a better society. You did a good job.

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