subsistence economy


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subsistence economy

or

subsistence society

a society which is seen as producing enough for survival without any economic surplus. This is a commonly used term to describe simple societies such as TRIBES or HUNTER-GATHERERS, but problematic. Most societies produce beyond immediate needs, and in the past anthropologists tended to underestimate the extent to which contact between societies gave rise to trade. If these qualifications are held in mind it is a usable concept to refer to societies whose members may limit their surplus production, or for whom market transactions are of secondary consideration, and if it is recognized that there are problems in defining ‘needs’ and 'survival’. See also ECONOMIC SURPLUS, NATURAL ECONOMY.