Global Capitalism vs Traditional Culture: Money in the Discourse of Foreign Cultural Anthropology

Keywords: economic anthropology, anthropology of money, traditional culture, work motivation, collision of cultures


The impact of globalization on the existence of local cultures remains the focus of anthropological research. The concept of money is one of the markers of how traditional culture meets global capitalism.

A historiographical review of foreign cultural anthropologists’ significant works on this issue is presented in the paper. The way in which scholars interpret the collision of global capitalism and traditional culture is analyzed. The focus is on the place of money, labor, and work motivation in this interpretation.

Many scholars emphasize the destructive nature of the impact of the global on local cultures, based on the tradition founded by Polanyi and developed by Bohannan. According to them, before the emergence of market relations, the need for labor was motivated not by economic but rather by social and moral norms. Global capitalism completely changed the attitude to labor and money, replacing moral norms with utilitarian benefits. Later anthropological studies (J. Parry and M. Bloch, E. Hirschman) are based on the possibility of coexistence of archaic features with modern economic systems in a single cultural matrix. In modern research works, both approaches coexist including synthetic form as well. In the paper, it is noted that the views of the scholar mostly depend on the level of social ranking at which the object of study is located.

It is mentioned that the range of problems studied by the anthropology of money has changed insignificantly. Thus, for the modern anthropologist, there is a considerable area for studying social transformations and cultural features through the attitude to labor and money.


Bohannan, P. (1959). The Impact of Money on an African Subsistence Economy Source. The Journal of Economic History. Vol. 19. Issue 4. P. 491-503.

Hann, К. (2007). Otnosheniia sobstvennosti v postsocialisticheskih obshchestvah [Property Relations in Post-Socialist Societies]. Zhurnal issledovanii socialnoi politiki, 5 (2), 151-178 [in Russian].

Hann, К. (2011). Moral Dispossession. Inter Disciplines, 2, 11-37.

Hart, K. (2005). Notes towards an anthropology of money. Kriticos an international and interdisciplinary journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image. Vol. 2, June. Retrieved from

Hickel, J. (2014). «Xenophobia» in South Africa: Order, Chaos, and the Moral Economy of Witchcraft. Cultural Anthropology, 29.1, 103-127. DOI:

Hirschman, E. (1985). Primitive Aspects of Consumption in Modern American Society. Journal of Consumer Research, 12.2, 142-154.

Holston, J. & Appadurai, A. (1996). Cities and Citizenship. Public Culture, 8, 187-204.

Humphrey, K. (2010). Postsovetskie transformatsii v aziatskoi chasti Rossii [Post-Soviet transformations in the Asian part of Russia]. Moskva [in Russian].

Malinovskii, B. (2004). Izbrannoe: Argonavty zapadnoi chasti Tikhogo okeana [The Selected: Argonauts of the Western Pacific]. Moskva [in Russian].

Maurer, B. (2006). Notes towards an anthropology of money. The Annual Review of Anthropology, 35, 15-36. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123127

Millar, K. (2014). The Precarious Present: Wageless Labor and Disrupted Life in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Cultural Antropology, 29. 1, P. 32-53. DOI: 10.14506/ca29.1.04

Moss, M. (1996). Ocherk o dare. Forma i osnovanie obmena v arkhaicheskikh obshchestvakh. [Essay on the Gift. The Form and Basis of Exchange in Archaic Societies]. Moss M. Obshchestva Obmen Lichnost. Moskva. Retrieved from [in Russian].

Muir, S. (2015). The Currency of Failure: Money and Middle-Class Critique in Post-Crisis Buenos Aires. Cultural Antropology, 30 (2), 311-335. DOI: 10.14506/ca30.2.10

O’Neill, B. (2014). Cast Aside: Boredom, Downward Mobility, and Homelessness in Post-Communist Bucharest. Cultural Antropology, 29 (1), 8-31. DOI: 10.14506/ca29.1.03

Parry, J. & Bloch, M. (1989). Money and the morality of exchange. Cambridge University Press.

Polan’i, К. (2007). O vere v ekonomicheskii determinizm [On Belief in Economic Determinism]. In «Velikaia transformaciia» Karla Polan’i: proshloe, nastoiashchee, budushchee, (pp. 22-29). Moskva. Retrieved from [in Russian].

Polan’i, К. (2007). Ekonomika kak institutsionalno oformlennyi protsess [Economics as an institutionalized process]. In «Velikaia transformaciia» Karla Polan’i: proshloe, nastoiashchee, budushchee, (pp. 44-71). Moskva. Retrieved from [in Russian].

Polan’i, К. (2007). Semantika ispolzovaniia deneg [The Semantics of Money Uses] In «Velikaia transformaciia» Karla Polan’i: proshloe, nastoiashchee, budushchee, (pp. 125-137). Moskva. Retrieved from [in Russian].

Schrader, H. (1999). Ekonomicheskaia antropologiia [Economic Anthropology]. Sankt-Peterburg: Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie [in Russian].

Taussig, M. (2010). The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America. The University of North Carolina Press.

Zimmel, G. (1978). Filosofiia deneg [The Philosophy of Money]. Boston [in Russian].

How to Cite
TkhorzhevskaT., & BohuslavskaY. (2020). Global Capitalism vs Traditional Culture: Money in the Discourse of Foreign Cultural Anthropology. EMINAK: Scientific Quarterly Journal, (2(30), 248-258.
Historiography, Source Study and Special Historical Disciplines