Summary of “Why inequality bothers people more than poverty”

Most remarkably, his research revealed that the Ju/’hoansi managed this on the basis of little more than 15 hours’ work per week.
More than any other food, meat was capable of making the Ju/’hoansi forget their customary good manners, so it required extra diligence in distribution.
Ironically, how envy functioned in societies such as the Ju/’hoansi suggests that, even if Smith’s hidden hand does not apply particularly well to late capitalism, his belief that the sum of individual self-interests can ensure the fairest distribution of the ‘necessaries of life’ was right, albeit in small-scale band societies.
Highlighting the explicit role of envy in Ju/’hoansi life risks giving the impression of a society of reluctant egalitarians constantly sniping at one another – an impression that any Ju/’hoansi will tell you is a far cry from the cheerful banter and mutual affection that characterises day-to-day life.
While, to be sure, the Ju/’hoansi do not reward people for being egalitarian, they are conscious of the positive emotional and social dividends that sharing, cooperation and harmony bring.
Unsurprisingly, envy still accounts for most conflict among the Ju/’hoansi in contemporary Nyae-Nyae where inequality is greater than ever before, because some have jobs or access to resources such as pensions that are denied to others.
With many Ju/’hoansi now dependent on the cash economy with its attendant employment hierarchies and management systems, many Ju/’hoansi are reluctant to take management roles or assume responsibilities that require making and imposing their decisions or authority on others.
If envy played a constructive role in small-scale band societies such as the Ju/’hoansi, it is harder to establish whether it has a similarly beneficial purpose in more complex, hierarchical societies.

The orginal article.