Can you think of any societies today or in history whose economies match the description of a traditional economy or a command economy?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There have been a number of command economies that have been (and are) fairly well-known.  However, it is much harder to identify traditional economies.  The reason for this is that traditional economies exist in very small and obscure places or they exist far back in history.

Command economies have been at least somewhat common in the last 100 years or so.  These economies have tended to be communist economies.  The Soviet Union had a command economy.  So did China under Mao.  Both groups forced people to give up their farms and join collective farms.  Mao’s government required people to join in the “Great Leap Forward,” which did things like mandating how to cultivate land and requiring everyone to help with making steel, even in backyard furnaces.  These were societies in which the government exerted a tremendous amount of control over the economy.

Traditional economies only tend to exist in out of the way places.  For example, the island in Micronesia on which I grew up still had vestiges of its traditional economy.  Various plants were cultivated largely for ceremonial purposes.  People would take multiple days off of work to attend traditional feasts.  The choices that they made in their economic lives were often determined by the demands of tradition.  In today’s world, traditional economies mainly exist in such places that are economically and geographically far away from the modern world.

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