When most people here the word exchange, they generally think of a two people trading some sort of item that usually have around the same value. However, this is just one, out of many forms of exchange that exist within our societies. As it turns out, the concept of exchange is actually a very important part to many functioning societies, even if they have different meanings to each person. This form of exchange for example that was just described is known as bartering. In contrast, other forms may include currency, or some type of debt system. These “systems of exchange” have provide people a way in which their labor for products and goods can be included in that particular system. In return it has created another way of developing a culture for themselves through the trading, giving and receiving items to one another.
Now because this mostly has to deal with money or, it stands to reason that the idea of exchange has to have some sort of place in a society’s economy. When it comes down to it, most if not all of these forms rely on two basic economic principles, production and distribution of resources. On the production side of things, you see exchange happing in ways that allow a person to produce an item so that it can be traded. There are a few different tactics that populations would use in order to produce a product. Now before we go any further, it’s important to realize that a society may have one or more different types of tactics. Sometimes, in groups that have low populations and densities, they would practice a hunter/gather strategy in which they would get into small groups, and follow whatever prey they were chasing. Because of this, they were always moving, which allowed for a more egalitarian type community. Some other strategies that were a bit similar to the hunter/gather strategy were the horticulture and pastoral strategies. Horticulture is where people would go and clear a section in whatever type of land they have, a forest for example, so that they can plant and garden there. Pastoral is pretty much the same thing except for instead of plants, it would be for animals that they would be using for food and clothing. Generally these three strategies go hand in hand due to the fact that they were small communities usually. On the other side, there is a tactic that people in America practice every day known as the industrial strategy. This is where you have people who work on just one particular thing that they are good at, and then they produce just that product. In order for this to work though, you have to have a high enough of population so that enough people can make all the products people need.
When it comes to the way that things are actually getting exchange, that’s where distribution comes in. As stated above in the previous paragraphs, there are different ways in which things can get distributed to people. It can be in the form of gifting in which you give someone an item so that they one day, they can do the same to you. Some societies like the Kula ring, use this as a way of social ranking in their society. Another form is the market system in which people don’t necessary have any relationship with the buyer, which is allows the customer to change where they want to go. It also depends on the idea of currency, and usually supports societies like ours in where most population is industrialized and urban. Finally there are some societies that practice exchange in which products are made and a central force comes and collects so that it may be redistributed in whichever way. This is generally in communist societies and countries such as Cuba, Laos, and China.