SOSANT1300 – Economic anthropology

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Course content

This course is an introduction to economic anthropology. Taking the recent global financial crisis as a starting point, we explore how anthropological explanations of why and how people engage in different kinds of economic activities might offer alternative perspectives and explanations to those of mainstream political or economic analysis.

The course explores these themes through an investigation of classical economic anthropological issues, such as the distinction between gifts and commodities, the relationship between people and objects of exchange, such as money, and most crucially the issue of the moral basis of markets and other forms of economic activity.

Students are made aware of ethnographic variety, with emphasis on the interaction between production, trade, marketing and consumption in different regions. Emphasis is also placed on identifying links between local economic practices and understanding on the one hand, and global economic interconnections associated with for example.

Specific topics studied in this regard include:

  • Markets and social inequality
  • state management and creation of market economies
  • the morality of financial markets
  • understanding the extent and limits of terms such as ‘capitalism’ or ‘neoliberalism’ in understanding contemporary variations in economic life through the use of diverse ethnographic examples

Learning outcome


  • A broad understanding of key anthropological approaches to the study of economics and material life.
  • An introduction to economic anthropological theory and methodology.
  • Knowledge of historical disciplinary approaches to the economy and material culture with a central focus on the application of these approaches to the problems of contemporary economic life.
  • Knowledge of regional variation in economic practice.


  • An ability to understand and explain how economic life is constituted through social, cultural and material practices.
  • An ability to identify and explain cultural variation in terms of the approach to the economy, and key concepts (eg, person, thing, money, market, gift and care).
  • An ability to formulate relevant approaches to economic life in different societies and locate relevant literature.

General competence

  • An understanding of and respect for scientific values ​​such as openness, rationality, precision, accountability and the importance of distinguishing between facts and opinions.
  • To understand the development of relevant theoretical issues, and to locate and orient these in relevant literature, as well as the ability to written and oral convey anthropological insights in a professional manner in oral and written form.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

There are no compulsory prerequisites for this course.

Recommended previous knowledge

It is recommended that all students have completed the following courses: SOSANT1000 - Innføring i sosialantropologi and SOSANT1050 - Etnografisk metode.


The course is given through a combination of lectures and seminars throughout the semester. Participation in the seminar group is highly recommended.


Take home exam. The exam paper must be minimum 2500 words and maximum 3500 words including cover page and foot- or endnotes.

Previous exams and assessment guidelines 

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English and Norwegian. You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course

Every autumn
Every autumn
Teaching language