The Best Book in Economic Sociology and Political Economy for 2011: ‘DEBT’ by David Graeber

An important and original  anthropologist David Graeber, who is perceived as one of the grassroots leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement, published this year a genuinely remarkable and groundbreaking book Debt: The First 5,000 Years. This research intends to turn (almost) everything we think  about money, debt, and economy on its head.
Graeber shows in this engaging and extraordinary treatise that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong.
In its essence, Graeber’s Debt is a highly compelling intellectual rebuttal of economists’ accounts of the origins of money and markets. The timing of the publication of this book cannot be ignored either, since it has contributed to discussions and activities propelled by the Occupy Wall Street and other social movements. Therefore David Graeber’s Debt definitely deserves to be awarded the Best Book in Economic Sociology and Political Economy for 2011.


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