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Faculty Publication: Assistant Professor of Anthropology Susanna Fioratta

December 19, 2018

A world of cheapness: Affordability, shoddiness, and second-best options in Guinea and China

Author: Susanna Fioratta

Publication Type: Journal Article

Source: Economic Anthropology. doi:10.1002/sea2.12133

Abstract: For people who trade and consume low-priced, low-quality goods, cheapness shapes their experiences of the world. In Guinea, West Africa, affordable Chinese-manufactured goods expand the limits of people’s everyday lives, while Guinean traders seek their fortunes by traveling to China to buy cheap merchandise. However, shoddy products that break easily often disappoint consumers, and traders find their journeys to China risky and difficult; many of them would migrate elsewhere if they could. Exploring the parallels between traders’ and consumers’ perspectives, this article considers how cheapness and second-best options allow people to participate in a globalized economy of manufactured goods, thereby improving their quality of life in ways that work sometimes, but not as well as they would like.

Department of Anthropology

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