Stone Age Economics is a classic study of anthropological economics, first published in 1974. Ambitiously tackling the nature of economic life and how to study it comparatively, the book includes six studies which reflect the author's ideas on revising traditional views of the hunter-gatherer and so-called primitive societies, revealing them to be the original affluent society.

    The book examines notions of production, distribution and exchange in early communities and examines the link between economics and cultural and social factors. It consists of a set of detailed and closely related studies of tribal economies, of domestic production for livelihood, and of the submission of domestic production to the material and political demands of society at large.

    1. The Original Affluent Society

    2. The Domestic Mode of Production: The structure of underproduction

    3. The Domestic Mode of Production: Intensification of production

    4. The Spirit of the Gift

    5. On the Sociology of Primitive Exchange

    6. Exchange Value and the Diplomacy of Primitive Trade


    Marshall Sahlins is Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago.

    'Sahlins’ forays into economic anthropology are full of interest.'Cyril S. Belshaw, American Anthropologist

    'The most sophisticated, extensive presentation, and argument in and about, the field of economic anthropology' - Walter C. Neale, Science

    'This book is subversive to so many of the fundamental assumptions of Western technological society that it is a wonder it was permitted to be published. Calling on extensive research among the planet's remaining stone-age societies—in Africa, Australia and South-East Asia as well as anecdotal reports from early explorers, Professor Sahlins directly challenges the idea that Western civilization has provided greater 'leisure' or 'affluence,' or even greater reliability, than 'primitive' hunter-gatherers.'Whole Earth Review

    'So rich in factual evidence and in ideas that a brief review cannot do it justice' - E. Evans-Pritchard, Times Literary Supplement

    'If  our  species  is  to  survive,  we’re  going  to  have to come up with a new economic discipline which starts from very  different  questions ... there is perhaps no single work of anthropology that so lends itself to this task as Stone Age Economics.' - David Graeber, London School of Economics, UK