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Explain why is scarcity a profoundly cultural phenomenon.

problem of ‘scarcity’ and why it is a profoundly cultural phenomenon. This in itself may strike you as a problematic assertion. Clearly there is a form of scarcity that is totally separate from anything learned, shared within a group and passed down through succeeding generations (the definition of culture I shared with you earlier in the semester). For example Helium is a relatively scarce element (and we waste it foolishly). Carbon life forms would appear to be relatively scarce on the scale of the universe, as far as we know to date. Various minerals are scarce, as far as anyone can tell. But these are abstractions – despite being materially ‘real’ or even ‘true’; what about food? What about clean water? Or clean air? Or any of the myriad commodities that have increasingly come to be thought of as critical to survival, never mind ‘the good life’ whatever that is?


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