This revised edition with new Introduction from a leading anthropologist and an economist is unique in being about consumption but not a sermon for consumers, nor a moan against consumerism. The World of Goods bridges the gap between what anthropologists know about why objects are desired and what economists say about the specialised topic called consumption behaviour. The economist treats the desire for objects as an individual urge grounded in psychology; according to the anthropologist it is for fulfilling social obligations and represents the distribution of goods as a symptom of the form of society. It is a totally different perspectice and raises issues that lie beyond economics.
The World of Goods asks new questions about why people save, why they spend, what they buy, and why they sometimes but not always make fine distinctions about quality. It is well-understood now that consumption goods communicate, create identity and establish relationships. But not so well-known that goods exclude as well as include, and that the pattern of their flow shows up the form of society. This book will be essential reading to students and lecturers in anthropology and economics.
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Mary Douglas is one of England's most distinguished anthropologists. She is author of, among many other works, Purity and Danger (1966), Natural Symbols (1970), and Implicit Meanings (1976).
Baron Isherwood is an English economist and specialist on consumer behaviour currently with the Department of Health and Social Security in England.
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