The Domestic Moral Economy: An ethnographic study of values in the Asia-Pacific Region

Project Details


Money, long believed to be the destroyer of subsistence economies, has become a key instrument for the maintenance of national and transnational kin relations as costs of weddings, funerals and other rituals soar and new forms of sharing money between kin, neighbours and friends develop. The scope and limits of our study are defined by a new conceptual framework that employs the notion of the domestic moral economy (DME) through fieldwork in the Asia-Pacific region. The DME is domestic in that it is concerned with a 'kin orientation' to the modern world rather than with internally-coherent kinship systems set apart from it. We are particularly concerned with the ambiguous zone that separates kin from non-kin in economic transactions. The DME is moral in the sense that it consists of valuers who have values that inform their moral reasoning as they meet obligations to other people. Respect and familial love are key values in the DME. The problem is not to establish the generality of these values, but to understand the myriad ways that they are engendered and realised. Then, the DME is economy in the sense that is an integral part of the money economy at large, not apart from it. Finally, the word 'domestic' today no longer has the connotation of 'local' as the family has become transnational; families are maintained through remittances and life-cycle rituals in global flows of money now estimated to be greater in size than foreign aid. Each researcher in this study carried out fieldwork in a different setting, demonstrating that the project is not on the Asia-Pacific region, but from it in the sense that we strive to understand the 'point of view' of members in the DME as they negotiate the world at large.

Collaborators: Professor C.A. Gregory, Australian National University, Professor F. Magowan, Queens University Belfast, Professor Jon Altman, Australian National University, and two postgraduate researchers, who completed their doctorates as part of the ESRC project, and found employment as Dr. Rodolfo Maggio, Oxford, and Dr. Rachel Smith, Cambridge.
Short titleR:HSA HSA: The Domestic
Effective start/end date1/10/1031/03/15

Collaborative partners

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.