Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 5

Charles Hancin

Writing Assignment #4
Part A

Economy is an important part of a working society, and that is true of a metropolitan city as of groups

living in tribes and such. The dynamics of the exchanges going on in those societies are formed to create

a sort of culture around the economy as well, with values being set in terms of that economy.

Two examples of the types of economies a society can have are market exchange and reciprocal

exchange economies. A market exchange economy is an economy in which decisions regarding the

investment or expenditure of resources is governed by the existence of other markets that try to attain

those resources. Also, present is a sense of anonymity, depending on the type of good or service. For

example, different brands try to compete over consumers’ capital while balancing supply and demand to

get the most money out of their target demographic. In a reciprocal exchange economy, the exchange of

goods and labor is based on establishing relationships based on an obligation of the eventual return on the

investment made by the first party. Bartering works with reciprocity in the sense that the immediate return

is finalized in the transaction and a relationship does not have to be formed. However, gift giving relies

on the fact that the relationship is inherent in the transaction itself.

The difference between a gift and a commodity lies in the relationship of that item’s “giver”. To clarify, a

gift is a good or service given based on knowledge of the person who had given it, establishing a

relationship along with receiving the thing. This may include the servicing of your car done by a

mechanic you knew in college, or a couch that was left for you when your friend left the state. In terms of

reciprocity, if I were to give someone a gift that fulfils their certain want or need, I would eventually

expect a sort of return on my investment that continues the relationship we have together, without money

having to come into the equation. As such, perhaps you may help the mechanic out by giving them a

couch they may want for the front of their TV, or have your friend stay at your place while they’re back

in town. A commodity, however, is named as such through the anonymity and alienable nature of the
items given. It does not create any sort of relationship between the giver or the receiver, except maybe

that of brand recognition. For example, while I purchase a mobile phone for myself, the person who made

that phone do not know that they will be making it for me and as such, I too, do not take into

consideration the person who manufactured that phone, nor do I expect to personally give them anything

in return. The money I used to buy that phone and the money that is given to that factory worker is the

only thing that creates a giver and receiver relationship, with $800 being the only signifier of any sort of

value my phone holds, removing the reciprocal obligation from the equation. While we understand the

price of certain items nowadays, it seems that we do not always realize the value of that item. Everything

has a price tag on it, overshadowing the real and practical uses of the item. For instance, when I want a

lamp, I do not see how it would fit into my room, the intensity of the bulb, or the delicate fabric and

pattern of the shade. Those factors are overlooked, and I merely look for the price tag. If the price exceeds

my budget, the value of the lamp is ignored.

The types of economy are also related to social power dynamics. Market exchange economy works in an

authoritative way, with anonymity creating the platform for which the exchanges occur. The anonymity

works in the market’s favor by using money and price itself as a replacement for the relationship. This is

different in a reciprocal exchange economy, where the value of the exchange is not just the physical good

or service, but also includes the relationship between the giver and the receiver. That relationship also ties

into the social power influence has in that society, without anonymity. In our society, a police officer

would do his job better if he didn’t have any relationship with the person getting arrested.
Charles Hancin
Writing Assignment #4
Part B Question Set 1

In the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, a Melpa-speaking population called the Kawelka

operate in peaceful ways, utilizing politics and relationships to govern the workings of their society. One

of the men there, Ongka, is tasked with gathering 600 pigs for a gift to a man, Perua, in a neighboring

group called the Kitepi.

In some Melpa-speaking populations, there are certain individuals called Big Men, respected political

figures that are chosen for their interpersonal relationship skills and organization. Ongka is a Big Man

himself, tasked with the job of leading a Moka. The Moka is a sort of competitive gift giving ceremony

between different groups to maintain power and respect between different groups. The primary currency

that gets exchanged in this ceremony is pigs, a sign of wealth to the Kawelka and Kitepi groups, along

with decorative birds, automobiles, and money. If he successfully attains the pigs necessary to conduct a

big Moka and give it to the Kitepi, he would expect a return with interest maybe ten or fifteen years down

the line while holding his group’s power and social standing above Perua’s.

To accrue those pigs, Ongka must utilize his social power on his people to convince them to give him

pigs for the Moka. Social power is a person’s ability to convince other members of their society to do

something that they may not want to do. In this case, Ongka is trying to use his influence to gather pigs

rather than his authority. In the past, the Kawelka had been much less peaceful, using war as a means to

an end, however, after pacification by colonization, they had to resort to more peaceful means of

resolving disputes. Since the group is now peaceful, Ongka must use non-violent ways to get what he

wants from his society, meaning that he can only talk. Whether he threatens, coerces, blackmails, or

persuades to do so is unimportant. Influence relies on that absolute non-violent social power. This is

contrasted with authority, where violence is okay, while not necessary, to be used to get people

motivated. Ongka was having a difficult time getting all the resources together to make a Moka because
people were not being swayed by his influence, and authority was off limits or else he would have been

excommunicated from the rest of the Kawelka group. To reliably get the people in the Kawelka group to

do what he wants, Ongka should have a good understanding of what each of the members are up to and

what sorts of ways he can shift the dynamics, or influence, in his favor, maintaining knowledge of the

relationships between him and his people.

In much larger societies, such as the United States, influence would not be a good way to create social

power, since one person cannot possibly change the dynamics of a certain group, unless the group only

consisted of a small town of 500 or so. In those larger cases, authority would be a better generator of

social power, relying on anonymity to allow authoritative people to use violence and force. By the nature

of the population size, anonymity is not only preferred, but also more advantageous. For example, Ongka

knows the man he’s dealing with, and also somewhat knows what is said about that man in terms of his

habits, needs, and vices from the other members of his group. Ongka can use any fact he deems necessary

to figuratively twist that man’s arm to get a few pigs for the upcoming Moka. In the United States, police

are necessary to stop perpetrators from committing more crimes. A police officer would generally have

no relation to the person who is to be arrested, and if the two are relatives, it would impede the justice

system due to a personal bias through relationship status. As such, violence would more likely not be used

to apprehend the criminal.

The Canela Indian society in Brazil are a group that share their resources with all members of their group

openly, including food, lodging, and sexual partners. Their high degree of sharing has been noted to be

very effective in maintaining order and peace. As such, they have a certain social dynamic called the

mending way, where disputes are all resolved peacefully through talking and acceptance. The Canela

favor influence when resolving disputes, through means such as dramatization. When a child had burned

their finger playing with fire, the group gathers as a community and the event is acted out by another

member of the group, with overplayed and humoristic acting, changing the pain into a sort of laughter,

and making light of the event itself. This is not to say that authority does not exist in the Canela society.
When Pedro beat his wife, Yomtam, in jealousy towards the other men who had laid with her, brothers in

her family were gathered to reciprocate by beating him in return. The elder had stated that punishment

would be sure to follow if the beating were to happen. This shows that while it is unusual for the

generally sharing and influence driven society of the Canela to have to resort to social power in violence,

it is not unheard of to have to exact authority. Everyone knows the elder, however, so the notion of

anonymity is somewhat one-sided, considering that he can still use authority.

The societal relations between people in different sorts of groups influence the way they see each other

and what kind of power they can exercise over the people around them. Power dynamics hold

implications in the rest of a population’s culture, shaping the way they perceive their society and what

they feel should be done in their situations.