Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism

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  • Edition: 5th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-06-25
  • Publisher: Pearson
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This award-winning text explores one of the most successful cultures and societies the world has ever seen - capitalism. From capitalism's European roots more than 500 years ago to the present, this text examines the problems caused by its expansion, inequality, environmental destruction, and social unrest. Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalismprovides any reader with the anthropological, economic, and historical framework to understand the origins of global problems, why globalization and the global expansion of the culture of capitalism has generated protest and resistance, and the steps necessary to solve global problems. Up-to-date information throughout the text helps students maintain a current view of the rapidity of global change. As one reviewer says, "In today's world of global cultures, the key to solving the problems of the future depends on understanding the cultures of today. Robbins'book spells this out in clear and easy-to-read prose. It is the one book that every college student should be required to read."

Author Biography

Richard H. Robbins is an anthropologist at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh with an interest in applying anthropology, as well as other disciplines, to the understanding of global problems. His other publications include Talking Points on Global Issues: A Reader and Darwin and the Bible: The Cultural Confrontation.

Table of Contents



Part One Introduction:    The Consumer, the Laborer, the Capitalist, and the Nation-State in the Society of Perpetual Growth


A Primer on Money


Chapter One:    Capitalism and the Making of the Consumer

Culture and the Construction of the Consumer

            The Construction of the Consumer

Kinderculture in America: The Child as Consumer

            The Role of Children in Capitalism

            The Social Construction of Childhood



Chapter Two:    The Laborer in the Culture of Capitalism

A Primer on the Economic Elements of Capitalism

            The Baptism of Money

The Construction and Anatomy of the Working Class

            Characteristics of the Working Class

The Growth of Overseas Assembly Plants

            The Creation of Free Labor

The Segmentation of the Workforce

Control and Discipline

Resistance and Rebellion



Chapter Three:    The Rise of the Merchant, Industrialist, and Capital Controller

The Era of the Global Trader

            A Trader’s Tour of the World 

            The Economic Rise of Europe and Its Impact on Africa and the Americas

            The Rise of the Trading Companies

The Era of the Industrialist

            Textiles and the Rise of the Factory System

            The Age of Imperialism

The Era of the Corporation, the Multilateral Institution, and the Capital Controller

            The Rise of the Corporation

            Bretton Woods and the World Debt

            The Power of Capital Controllers



Chapter Four:    The Nation-State in the Culture of Capitalism

The Origin and History of the State

            The Evolution of the State

            The History and Function of the Nation-State

Constructing the Nation-State

            Creating the Other

            Language, Bureaucracy, and Education

            Violence and Genocide

Spin, Free Trade, and the Role of Energy in the Global Economy

            Manufacturing Consent: Spin

            Markets and Free Trade

            Energy and Technology



Part Two Introduction:    The Global Impact of the Culture of Capitalism


Chapter Five:    The Problem of Population Growth

The Malthusians versus the Revisionists

            The Case of India and China

            The Issue of Carrying Capacity

            The Ideology of Malthusian Concerns

Demographic Transition Theory

            A Primer on the Determinants of Population Growth and Decline

            Some Examples of Demographic Change

            Population Growth in the Periphery

Wealth Flows Theory

            The Social Implications of Wealth Flows Theory

            The Question of Gender and Power

            Problems and Prospects



Chapter Six:    Hunger, Poverty, and Economic Development

The Evolution of Food Production: From the Neolithic to the Neocaloric

            From Gathering and Hunting to the Neolithic Capitalism and Agriculture

            The Neocaloric and the Green Revolution

The Politics of Hunger

            The Anatomy of Famine

            The Anatomy of Endemic Hunger

Solutions and Adaptations to Poverty and Hunger

            Economic Development

            The Nature and Growth of the Informal Economy

            The Nature and Scope of the Informal Economy of Drugs



Chapter Seven:    Environment and Consumption

The Case of Sugar

            Sugar Origins and Production

            Uses of Sugar

            The Development of the Sugar Complex

            The Expansion of Sugar Consumption

            The Mass Consumption of Sugar

            Modern Sugar

The Story of Beef

            The Ascendancy of Beef

            The Emergence of the American Beef Industry

            Modern Beef    

            The Internationalization of the Hamburger

            Environmentally Sustainable Cattle Raising

Exporting Pollution



Chapter Eight:    Disease

A Primer on How to Die of an Infectious Disease

The Relationships between Culture and Disease

            Gathering and Hunting to Early Agriculture

            “Graveyards of Mankind”

            Diseases of Environmental Change

AIDS and the Culture of Capitalism

            How Did the Disease Spread?

            Who Gets Infected with AIDS?

            Who Gets Blamed?



Chapter Nine:    Indigenous People, Ethnic Groups, and the Nation-State

The Fate of Indigenous Peoples

Some Characteristics of Indigenous Peoples

            The Process of Ethnocide

The Guaraní: The Economics of Ethnocide

            History and Background

            Contemporary Development and Guaraní Communities

Disadvantaged Majorities and Their Revenge

            Leveling Crowds

            Genocide and an Externality of the Market

“Ethnic Cleansing” in Yugoslavia

Genocide in Rwanda



Part Three Introduction:    Resistance and Rebellion


Chapter Ten:    Peasant Protest, Rebellion, and Resistance

Malaysia and the Weapons of the Weak

            Malaysian Peasants and the Green Revolution

            Fighting Back

            Obstacles to Resistance

            Protest and Change

Kikuyu and the Mau Mau Rebellion

            The British in East Africa

            The White Highlands

            The Roots of the Rebellion

            The Rebellion    

            “State of Emergency”

            The Oath and the Detention Camps


The Rebellion in Chiapas

            Poverty and Inequality in Chiapas

            The Rebellion and the Global Economy

            The Revolt and the Reaction of the Mexican Government \

            The Future of Peasants



Chapter Eleven:    Antisystemic Protest

Protest as Antisystemic: The Two World Revolutions

            The Revolution of 1848

            The Revolution of 1968

The Protests of Labor: Coal Miners in Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania

            The Coal Industry and the Worker’s Life

            Worker Resistance and Protest

            Destroying Worker Resistance

Global Feminist Resistance

            Gender Relations in the Culture of Capitalism

            Strategies of Protest

Ecological Resistance Movements     


            Chipko and the Tragedy of the Commons



Chapter Twelve:    Religion and Antisystemic Protest

Indigenous Religious Movements as Protest

            The Ghost Dance

            The Cargo Cults

            Zionism in South Africa

The Global Challenge of Antisystemic Religious Protest

            Islamic Fundamentalism

            Protestant Fundamentalism in North America

Terror in the Mind of God

    Some Examples of Religious Violence

            The Militants of Protestant Fundamentalists

            Terror in the Holy Land

            Armageddon in a Tokyo Subway

            Understanding Religious Violence



Chapter Thirteen:    Constructing the Citizen-Activist

What Are the Real Dangers?

            The GNP and the Construction of the Doctrine of Perpetual Growth

            The Depletion of Natural Capital

            The Depletion of Political Capital

            The Depletion of Social Capital

            Capital and Public Policy

Constructing the Citizen-Activist

            Indices and Goals for Well-Being

            The Means and Prospects for Change: Attaining Zero Economic Growth

            Rebuilding and Maintaining Natural Capital

            Restoring Political Capital

            Rebuilding Social Capital


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