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Journal of Economic Issues






This article is an attempt to think about economic theory. The vehicle for thinking about it will be anthropology's concept of culture; the end result will be to suggest that economics is a cultural system, more specifically, that economics is a sacred cultural system. In order to give expression to this view it will be necessary to first sketch the concept of culture as created and historically transmitted systems of symbols and meanings. The argument has been brief and suggestive rather than long and decisive; more exploratory than conclusive. If it is correct, or at least correct in its orientation, then it suggests that traditional economics is more than a positive science the purpose of which is to describe economic reality; it is a cultural system that tells people what they most need to know about living. Not all people worry about the types of questions that economics as a cultural system tries to answer to but every society has its philosophers and theologians who seek answers to such questions while the rest, more concerned with coping, solving and striving, carry on assured that there are answers and that the world is not absurd and that they can, by taking thought, effectively orient themselves within it.


Author Posting. © Association for Evolutionary Economics, 1982. This article is posted here by permission of the Association for Evolutionary Economics for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Journal of Economic Issues, Volume 16, Issue 2, June 1982.

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