What Does It Mean To Be Human?: A Comparison Of Primate Economies

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Journal Of Bioeconomics


Synopsis: Since the beginning of serious field studies of nonhuman primates in the early 1930s, many primatologists have been arguing that humans and their simian cousins differ much less than commonly believed. Little systematic attention, however, has focused on the degree to which the foraging economies of human and nonhuman primates are similar or different. Using a comparative method I investigate consumption, organization of production (including technology), distribution, and property relations. Humans and nonhuman primates differ in their division of labor, food distribution, the use of special tools and techniques, and possessing a home base. More importantly, the economic activities of humans, unlike monkeys and apes, are structured through economic institutions, which are mutable.