Geertz, Clifford. 1978. "The Bazaar Economy: Information and Searchin Peasant Marketing." American Economic Review 68:28-32.


The bazaar economy (this one of a city in Morroco) does follow the maxims of formal economics -- everyone wants to buy cheap and sell dear, price relates supply and demand, etc. But the principles that govern the organization of economic life. In the bazaar information is poor, scarce, maldistributed, inefficiently communicated, and intensely valued.

In the bazaar, "the search for information one lacks and the protection of information one has is the name of the game". Unlike industrial economies, information less improves efficiency or product quality then by securing for their possessor an advantaged place in an enormously complicated, poorly articulated, and extremely noisy communication network.

Information search is thus the really advanced art in the bazaar.. Two most important search procedures are clientelization and bargaining. Clientelization is the tendency for repetitive purchasers to estabilish continuing relationships with particular sellers than to go through the market with each occaision of need. These relationships are not dependency relations, but competitive ones. "Clientization reduces search to manageable proportions and transforms a diffuse mob into a stable collection of familiar antagonists." p. 229

Search is accumlative -- once you find someone you like you continue to go there. Clientization represents an actor-level attempt to counteract, and profit from, the system-level deficiencies of the bazaar as a communication network."

Bargaining is both multidimensional (price, quantity, quality, etc.) and intensiveness. In the bazaar the important information problems have to do with determining the realities of the particular case rather than the general distribution of comparable causes".