Bad Year Economics

Bad Year Economics : Cultural Responses to Risk and Uncertainty

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Bad Year Economics explores the role of risk and uncertainty in human economics within an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural framework. Drawing on archaeology, anthropology, and ancient and modern history, the contributors range widely in time and space across hunting, farming and pastoralism, across ancient states, empires, and modern nation states. The aim, however, is a common one: to analyse in each case the structure of variability - particularly with regard to food supply - and review the range of responses offered by individual human communities. These responses commonly exploit various forms of mobility, economic diversification, storage, and exchange to deploy local or temporary abundance as a defence against shortage. Different levels of response are used at different levels of risk. Their success is fundamental to human survival and their adoption has important ramifications throughout cultural behaviour.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 210 x 278 x 4mm | 381.02g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Pbk
  • 052161192X
  • 9780521611923

Review quote

"This volume commends itself to a wide audience of archeologists, geographers, economic and ecological anthropologists, climatologists and economic historians. With the caveat that it gives little attention to instances of overt adaptive failure, the conceptual tools and potential for historical analogies it presents should be of interest to anyone concerned with the implications of present-day or future environmental changes for human well-being." Bruce Winterhalder, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in Science
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Table of contents

List of figures; List of tables; Preface; 1. Introduction: cultural responses to risk and uncertainty P. Halstead and J. O'Shea; 2. The spirit of survival: cultural responses to resource variability in North Alaska L. Minc and K. Smith; 3. Saving it for later: storage by prehistoric hunter-gatherers in Europe P. Rowley-Conwy and M. Zvelebil; 4. The role of wild resources in small-scale agricultural systems: tales from the lakes and the plains J. O'Shea; 5. The economy has a normal surplus: economic stability and social change among early farming communities of Thessaly, Greece P. Halstead; 6. Changing responses to drought among the Wodaabe of Niger K. Legge; 7. The grandfathers and grand theories: the hierarchised ordering of responses to hazard in a Greek rural community H. Forbes; 8. Risk and the polis: the evolution of institutionalised responses to food supply problems in the ancient Greek state P. Garnsey and I. Morris; 9. Monitoring interannual variability: an example from the period of early state development in southwestern Iran H. Wright, R. Redding and S. Pollock; 10. Public intervention in the food supply in pre-industrial Europe W. Jongman and R. Dekker; 11. Conclusion: bad year economics J.O'Shea and P. Halstead; References; Index.
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