"We are too connected" or the ritual side of economy in a Macedonian town.
(Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Paper short abstract:
In the post-socialist and post-industrial city of Prilep in Macedonia people devote important part of the household budget to ritual celebrations. In a context were economy is based almost exclusively on social relationships people draw on the house and kinship metaphors to constitute sense of market relationships.
Paper long abstract:
Since the break up of Yugoslavia and the dismantlement of its markets, livelihoods in the town of Prilep have noticeably deteriorated. The mainstream complaint among locals is about gradual impoverishment and deprivation, due to a chronic cash shortage. The situation however conceals a paradox. A household budget survey ranks ritual celebrations and house-based feasts on the top of the list of unavoidable expenditures. Despite diminishing feast budgets and the constraint to reduce the number of guests, informants state that throughout the socialist period till now the number of celebrations that a family should hold in a year has multiplied. Celebrations such as the Patron saint of the house (Slava) and the 8 of March are generally qualified as a "duty" that "one cannot omit". Unanimously their cost is evaluated as "too high" and the detail on purchases deemed to be necessary for, are listed out together with the amounts of electricity, water and taxes bills. I argue that people devote so much material resources and time to ritual because their economy is based on social relationships. In a city with almost 40% of unemployment most households combine casual jobs with house-based tobacco growing. In this setting we observe how ritual events that sustain kinship and friendship relationships are given priority over community based rituals. Caught up by the ritual, individuals draw on the house and kinship metaphors that they project outside to constitute sense of market relationships. Underneath, there is an idea that ritual life creates material wealth.
Economy and ritual