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Capitalism, primitive and modern : some aspects of Tolai economic growth

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: Capitalism, primitive and modern : some aspects of Tolai economic growth
Author(s): Epstein, T. Scarlett
Date published: 1968
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : ANU Press
A flexible social system with a monetised economy and many of the features of a modern capitalistic society is unusual among underdeveloped peoples. Such a system existed among the Tolai of New Britain long before European contact, though at the same time they were a primitive, cannibalistic people. In the last seventy years they have come to be regarded as the most advanced and sophisticated people in the whole of New Guinea. From her intimate knowledge of conditions among the Tolai the author shows that even such favourable pre-conditions of growth provide no more than fertile ground for new economic ventures. Sooner or later a stage is reached where a new institutional framework is needed for further growth. With a wealth of carefully recorded detail and a stimulating approach Dr Epstein has examined the development among the Tolai of a modern cash economy: through cash cropping to investment in tertiary industry which by its nature is protected from foreign competition. The Tolai have altered but not abandoned their former way of life, with consequent problems of stress in the subtle relationship between traditional and modern forces in an economic and social system. Dr Epstein{u2019}s analysis of the Tolai{u2019}s economic growth demonstrates the significance of social factors for an understanding of economic problems. Her book is important for economists, social anthropologists, and the planners and administrators in underdeveloped areas, and it will have a wide appeal for readers interested in social, political, and economic change in a society before and after European influence.


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