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Critical realism and economic anthropology

Harvey, John; Smith, Andrew; Golightly, David

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Associate Professor

Professor of Consumer Behaviour & Analytics

David Golightly


This paper discusses basic critical realism within the context of economic anthropology and develops an approach to studying material relations between people. A diachronic form of analysis, following the work of Bhaskar and Archer, is described as a practical means of analysing property rights. This new approach emphasises epistemic relativism and ontological realism in order to compare disparate forms of human interaction across cultures. The aim of doing this is to develop a philosophical framework that allows for the comparison of economic practices without resorting to judgemental relativism. The implications are significant for institutional economics and anthropology alike, particularly for researchers examining multiple overlapping practices such as market and gift exchange.


Harvey, J., Smith, A., & Golightly, D. (2017). Critical realism and economic anthropology. Journal of Critical Realism, 16(5), 431-450.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 6, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 10, 2017
Publication Date Oct 10, 2017
Deposit Date Sep 8, 2017
Publicly Available Date Apr 11, 2019
Journal Journal of Critical Realism
Print ISSN 1476-7430
Electronic ISSN 1572-5138
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 5
Pages 431-450
Keywords Economic anthropology; Social structure; Property rights
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Critical Realism on 10 October 2017, available online:
Contract Date Sep 8, 2017


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