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Why wage earners hunt: food sharing, social structure, and influence in an arctic mixed economy

Ready, Elspeth and Power, Eleanor A. (2017) Why wage earners hunt: food sharing, social structure, and influence in an arctic mixed economy. Current Anthropology. ISSN 0011-3204

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Identification Number: 10.1086/696018


Food sharing has been a central focus of research in human behavioral ecology and anthropology more broadly. Studies of food sharing have typically focused on either the individual’s motivations to share or the social formations and value systems that sharing produces. Here, we employ social network analysis to do both, investigating how strategic economic decisions, such as decisions about sharing, are embedded in and feed back onto social structure. This research is based on a questionnaire conducted with 110 Inuit households during 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Kangiqsujuaq, Nunavik, Canada. In Kangiqsujuaq, traditional Inuit resource harvesting and sharing practices coexist with and depend on opportunities and constraints in the cash economy. Food sharing in Kangiqsujuaq emerges as a complex social, political, and economic phenomenon that accomplishes different objectives for actors based on their social position. The network approach adopted in this research highlights the conjugate role of individual decisions and structural constraints in broader processes of social and cultural change. In the mixed economy of Kangiqsujuaq, food sharing, social structure, and political influence are intimately connected. The results suggest that economic and political inequality in the settlement are reinforced by the social structures produced through sharing.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Methodology
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2018 11:30
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2018 11:46

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