Limited Wants, Unlimited Means: A Reader On Hunter-Gatherer Economics And The Environment

Front Cover
John Gowdy
Island Press, 1998 - Business & Economics - 342 pages
For roughly 99% of their existence on earth, Homo sapiens lived in small bands of semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, finding everything they needed to survive and thrive in the biological richness that surrounded them. Most if not all of the problems that threaten our own technologically advanced society -- from depletion of natural capital to the ever-present possibility of global annihilation -- would be inconceivable to these traditional, immediate-return societies. In fact, hunter-gatherer societies appear to have solved problems of production, distribution, and social and environmental sustainability that our own culture seems incapable of addressing.Limited Wants, Unlimited Means examines the hunter-gatherer society and lifestyle from a variety of perspectives. It provides a brief introduction to the rich anthropological and sociological literature on non-agricultural societies, bringing together in one volume seminal writings on the few remaining hunter-gatherer cultures including, the !Kung, the Hadza, and the Aborigines. It examines the economics of traditional societies, and concludes with a multifaceted investigation of how such societies function and what they can teach us in our own quest for environmental sustainability and social equality.Limited Wants, Unlimited Means is an important work for students of cultural anthropology, economic anthropology, environmental studies, and sustainable development, as well as for professionals, researchers, and anyone interested in prehistoric societies, environmental sustainability, or social justice.

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Modern civilization has a tendency to congratulate itself as it exhales a heavy and self-aggrandizing sigh of relief that we are so blessed to live in this wonderful day in age, rejoicing, "No more ... Read full review

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About the author (1998)

John Gowdy is Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

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