Formalist - substantivist debate, Other Subject

Formalist - Substantivist debate

Formalist-Substantivist debate is the dispute in ECONOMIC ANTHROPOLOGY between those scholars who argue that formal rules of neoclassical economic theory derived from the study of capitalist market societies can be used to explain the dynamics of premodern economies ("formalists") and those who argue that goods and services in the substantive economy are produced and distributed through specific cultural contexts ("substantivists"). Formalists contend that because all economies involve the rational pursuit of, access to, and use of, scarce resources by self-interested, maximizing social actors, formal economic rules can be used to explain them (H. Schneider 1974). The subject of economics, according to the formalists, is a kind of behavior-"economizing"-that is universally applicable to situations where only limited means are available for achieving a range of ends.

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