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Do you use facebook?

Photo of a smartphone with the Facebook application open
Economics is greatly impacted by how well information travels through society. Today, social media giants Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are major forces on the information super highway. (Credit: Johan Larsson/Flickr)

Decisions ... decisions in the social media age

To post or not to post? Every day we are faced with a myriad of decisions, from what to have for breakfast, to which route to take to class, to the more complex—“Should I double major and add possibly another semester of study to my education?” Our response to these choices depends on the information we have available at any given moment; information economists call “imperfect” because we rarely have all the data we need to make perfect decisions. Despite the lack of perfect information, we still make hundreds of decisions a day.

And now, we have another avenue in which to gather information—social media. Outlets like Facebook and Twitter are altering the process by which we make choices, how we spend our time, which movies we see, which products we buy, and more. How many of you chose a university without checking out its Facebook page or Twitter stream first for information and feedback?

As you will see in this course, what happens in economics is affected by how well and how fast information is disseminated through a society, such as how quickly information travels through Facebook. “Economists love nothing better than when deep and liquid markets operate under conditions of perfect information,” says Jessica Irvine, National Economics Editor for News Corp Australia.

This leads us to the topic of this chapter, an introduction to the world of making decisions, processing information, and understanding behavior in markets —the world of economics. Each chapter in this book will start with a discussion about current (or sometimes past) events and revisit it at chapter’s end—to “bring home” the concepts in play.

Introduction

In this chapter, you will learn about:

  • What Is Economics, and Why Is It Important?
  • Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
  • How Economists Use Theories and Models to Understand Economic Issues
  • How Economies Can Be Organized: An Overview of Economic Systems

What is economics and why should you spend your time learning it? After all, there are other disciplines you could be studying, and other ways you could be spending your time. As the Bring it Home feature just mentioned, making choices is at the heart of what economists study, and your decision to take this course is as much as economic decision as anything else.

Economics is probably not what you think. It is not primarily about money or finance. It is not primarily about business. It is not mathematics. What is it then? It is both a subject area and a way of viewing the world.

In this assignment you will learn the characteristics of economic systems.

You will become familiar with concepts such as use rights, ownership, and division of labor, that govern the production of economic goods and services.

You will learn about the basic forms of distribution: reciprocity, redistribution, and markets.

You will examine the differences in consumption in societies that are based on subsistence economies and in societies that generate status income.

Finally, you will learn the mechanisms by which societies of differing complexity control their economic systems.

Assignment PDF eBook: 
Chapter 12: Cultural Anthropology Economic
Download #12 Economic System Assignment PDF eBook
56 Pages
2014
English US
Educational Materials



Sample Questions from the Chapter 12: Cultural Anthropology Economic System Assignment

Question: Which of the following is true of ownership?

Choices:

It is a synonym for use rights.

It implies the right to use a resource and to deny its use to other.

It is based on social status such as rank, age, or sex.

It implies the right to deny its use to others who have use rights.

Question: Which of the following is necessarily true of money?

Choices:

Its value is based on its usefulness as a commodity.

It is always valuable in its own right.

Its value is based on mutual agreement.

It is of no value in and of itself.

Question: Which of the following is NOT true of Kwakiutl exchanges?

Choices:

Honor is an important factor in bargaining.

Paying too low a price could mark one as poor.

Selling high can mark one as stingy.

Both the buyer and seller attempt to maximize their immediate material benefit.

Question: Which of the following is NOT one of the basic systems of distribution?

Choices:

reciprocity

redistribution

markets

barter

Question: Which of the following is true of division of labor in bands?

Choices:

Specialization is based on one’s birth family.

Voluntary differences based on the differing interests of individuals.

Age and gender are the fundamental criteria for specialization.

Kinship roles determine the specializations of individuals.

Question: Which of the following is NOT a necessary part of a definition of economics?

Choices:

production

distribution

buying and selling

consumption

Question: Which of the following is true of the profit motive?

Choices:

People work to maximize their material benefits in any exchange.

The benefits sought in an exchange may include intangible ones.

It is the only factor that determines the true value of commodities.

It is not influenced by cultural values.

Question: Which of the following is true of the concept of “supply and demand”?

Choices:

It is the only force that controls prices and wages in the United States.

It is unrelated to cultural values.

It has prevented discrimination in wages in the United States.

It is as much a value statement as it is a description of economic processes.

Question: a system of distribution for goods and services based primarily on the use of established locations for the exchange

Choices:

economics

commodities

ownership

unskilled laborers

pink-collar occupations

blue-collar workers

white-collar occupations

professionals

reciprocity

generalized reciprocity

redistribution

bigmanship

chief

market

barter

money

general-purpose money

consumption

subsistence economy

subsistence income

status income

feminization of poverty

conspicuous consumption

corporation

consumer market

means of production

Question: Which of the following is true of subsistence economies?

Choices:

They usually give rise to major differences in wealth.

The work of food producers is the basis for calculating the wealth of non-food commodities.

They involve producing primarily for one’s own consumption.

They are least common in bands

Question: Which of the following best characterizes reciprocity?

Choices:

direct exchange

gift giving

bargaining

barter

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Source:  Prof. Richley Crapo, Cultural Anthropology. (Utah State University), http://ocw.usu.edu/Anthropology/Cultural_Anthropology/ (Accessed 28 Mar, 2014). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA
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