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Direct exchange of goods or services without the use of money or any other intervening medium of exchange. Barter is conducted either according to established rates of exchange or by bargaining. Barter is common among preliterate societies, particularly in those communities with some developed form of market. Goods may be bartered within a group as well as between groups, although gift exchange probably accounts for most intragroup trade, particularly in small and relatively simple societies. See alsocurrency.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on barter, visit Britannica.com.