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Wealth, Poverty and Consumption - ANTH731

Since the fall of the Soviet Bloc and the move of China toward an open market, 'capitalism' looks to many people like the inevitable outcome of unbending human nature. In fact, humans have found many ways to organise production, distribution, and consumption; even within free markets, certain spheres of life follow different logics. Market-based economies have faced many alternative forms of organisation, and they make very specific, peculiar demands of participants. This course examines the cultural dimensions of capitalism, exploring issues such as forms of wealth, the value of money, customs of trade, the implications of commoditisation, the corporation as social organisation, forms of distribution, the creation of human 'needs', globalisation and everyday life, investment and anticipation of the future, advertising as meaning-making, and the forms of irrationality that exist in diverse economies.

Some critics have argued that commoditisation spells the end of authentic culture, that the human capacity for creativity is replaced by the cultural industries’ ability to mass produce images for passive consumption. This unit, instead, argues that the human capacity to make meaning, forge individual identity, build relationships, and distinguish ourselves from others remains, often by hijacking the products of capitalism.

Credit Points: 4
When Offered:

2018 - Next offered in 2018

Staff Contact(s): Dr Chris Vasantkumar

Admission to MRes Prerequisite Information


Unit Designation(s):
Assessed As: Graded
Offered By:

Department of Anthropology

Faculty of Arts

Course structures, including unit offerings, are subject to change.
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