Introducing Anthropological Foundations of Economic Behavior, Organization, and Control
One of the rude awakenings for economists from the current recession is an emerging understanding that economics has gone wild with its highbrow mathematical models that bear little resemblance to reality. The failure of economics to predict and solve the current global recession, has restored the “dismal science” title to the profession. It stems from the cultish fascination with Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand, centered around the belief in the efficient market hypothesis. This fascination exposes analytical holes in the methodology that economics has followed lately, as economics itself has moved too far away from its key social foundations. This situation is incomprehensible and needs redressing. I compiled a book - Selected Readings on the Anthropological Bases of Economic Behavior, Organization, and Control - to help economists and others get back in touch with their genealogy. This current paper is a watered down version of the introduction to Selected Readings. It concludes that real life is neither as simple nor economic as economic theory sometimes suggests. In fact, and for much of human history, non-economic factors and forces have driven economic activities. Selected Readings provides an opportunity for reinforced focus on economics principles. Alone and detached from its social foundations economics has a future only as fiction. As serious non-fiction, economics cannot successfully divorce itself from its elemental foundations in the social sciences. To advance its theory in the past economics needed to borrow from mathematics and physics. Such learning must continue. However, to remain policy-relevant economics cannot wish away the very social bases upon which it is founded. Without social foundations one might as well kiss economics goodbye.
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