Dani Economic Organization - General Integration



Having covered the individual features of Dani economic processes and flows, we must now consider the overall integration of the economy and the question of which alternative model most usefully represents its basic structure.  The most obvious starting point is a consideration of the multicentric economy model, which has been widely applied to pre-capitalist societies.

On one level the multicentric model seems to fit a number of features of Dani economic life.  A clear separation is observable in the strict distinction between women's work, which is directed towards household production and subsistence support of the family, and men's activities which revolve around capital formation, trading, ritual and warfare.  Thus we can talk about a  distinct female subsistence and a male prestige spheres.  Further boundaries in the economy are suggested by a separation of the male sphere into capital formation, prestige, and trade.

Dani economy, Multicentric Model

 
Male  Capital Formation
Trade
Prestige
Female Subsistence



 
However a closer look at economic flows indicates that many essential items are used in more than one final use category and actually serve as a force for general economic integration.  The most important commodity in this regard is pigs, which is utilized in all four final use sectors and mediates the male/female division insofar as

  1. pigs must be transferred from women to men for prestige and trade uses
  2. men use their pig stocks to acquire female labour (through bride payments)

According to these observations, we may formulate an integrated, or unicentric, model of the Dani economy in which pigs assume the status of a central integrating commodity and, as such, represent a general purpose medium of exchange. i.e., money.

Dani Economy - Unicentric Model


© Brian Schwimmer
University of Manitoba
Date Created: October 1, 1997
Last Updated:
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