The Purchase Society: Adaptation to Economic Frontiers.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mary W. Helms, Emeritus Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: A sociocultural category, termed the Purchase Society, is proposed as a framework within which to analyze adaptations by simpler societies living on the economic frontiers of both agrarian and industrializing states. Unlike peasantry, purchase societies maintain their political autonomy and are not enmeshed in the political controls characteristic of agrarian states. Consequently, their involvement with a wider society is characterized not by coercive demands for payment of various rents to the state, but solely by engagement in trade or wage labor to obtain items of foreign manufacture which have become cultural necessities. In order to participate successfully in this wider economic network, internal socio-political and economic structures may adapt in any number of ways so as to facilitate the formation of outside economic ties.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1969
economics, anthropology, purchase society, agrarian states, industrializing states, politics

Email this document to