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Anthropology as the basic science of economic theory: towards a cultural theory of economics


  • Nils Goldschmidt
  • Bernd Remmele


Economics and culture are in a complex, developing relation to each other. Yet, to introduce 'culture' into economic theory requires, first of all, an appropriate understanding of culture itself. The crucial point of this paper is that culture in its development and structure is only understandable if one considers it in connection with the autonomous structural development of the forms with which the subjects experience and construct their world. In recognition of the socio-cultural organization of human society, there is no absolute autonomy of individuals in comparison to society and economics, while together with this interdependency the development of rationality exceeds mere instrumentality. Through ontogenesis, every individual is located 'within the boundaries of society'. What are consequences for economic theory? First of all: Economics is a cultural science in a double sense. Its object is the changing world of economic phenomena that are bound in a very specific cultural context. However, culture is not only relevant for the phenomena of socio-economic life, but also for the phenomena of economic science, i.e. for the development of economic thought.

Suggested Citation

  • Nils Goldschmidt & Bernd Remmele, 2005. "Anthropology as the basic science of economic theory: towards a cultural theory of economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 455-469.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:12:y:2005:i:3:p:455-469 DOI: 10.1080/13501780500223783

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Buchanan, James M, 1995. "Economic Science and Cultural Diversity," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 193-200.
    2. Ronald H. Coase, 2000. "The new institutional economics," Chapters,in: Institutions, Contracts and Organizations, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Colander, David, 2000. "The Death of Neoclassical Economics," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(02), pages 127-143, June.
    4. Hands,D. Wade, 2001. "Reflection without Rules," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521797962, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Groß Steffen W., 2011. "Vom »Gesetz« zur »Form« Überlegungen zum epistemischen und methodologischen Status der Volkswirtschaftslehre / From »Law« to »Form«. Considerations about the epistemic and methodological status of eco," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 62(1), pages 405-424, January.
    2. repec:mje:mjejnl:v:13:y:2017:i:2:p:71-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:mje:mjejnl:v:12:y:2017:i:2:p:71-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Groß Steffen W., 2010. "Warum sich Ökonomen (wieder) mit Philosophie beschäftigen sollten – und Philosophen (wieder) mit Ökonomie / Why Economists should be more interested in Philosophy (again) – and why Philosophers should," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 61(1), pages 75-94, January.
    5. Piero Ferri & Anna Maria Variato, 2007. "Macro Dynamics in a Model with Uncertainty," Working Papers (-2012) 0704, University of Bergamo, Department of Economics.
    6. Zweynert, Joachim, 2007. "Interests versus culture in the theory of institutional change?," HWWI Research Papers 5-3, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    7. Michael J. Pisani & Thomas M. Fullerton, Jr., 2013. "Microenterprise Peso Acceptance in El Paso, Texas," Ensayos Revista de Economia, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Facultad de Economia, vol. 0(2), pages 75-94, November.
    8. Christian Schubert, 2006. "A Note on the Principle of "Normative Individualism"," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2005-17, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.


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