Herskovitz, Melville Jean

(1895-1963)
An American economic anthropologist who was influenced by Franz Boas and A. A. Goldenweiser during his studies at Columbia University, and himself taught at Northwestern University. He is probably best known for his research into the retention of Africanisms in Afro-American culture (see The Myth of the Negro Past, 1941) and his writing on economic anthropology (Economic Anthropology: A Study in Comparative Economics, 1952). He criticized the early theory that the individual must be the starting-point of economic analysis, without himself retreating to economic determinism, and pointed to the importance of looking at how individuals make an economic choice in the face of social constraints and resources and cultural values.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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