Meillassoux, a student of Georges Balandier, did fieldwork among the Guro (Gouro) of the Côte d'Ivoire: his thesis was published in 1964. In the 1970s he criticised Marshall Sahlins's use of the notion of "domestic mode of production". Meillassoux was throughout his life a politically committed critic of social injustice.
His son Quentin is an academic philosopher.
- Femmes, greniers et capitaux (1975, Maspero; transl. as Maidens, Meal and Money: Capitalism and the Domestic Community)
- Anthropologie de l'esclavage: le ventre de fer et d'argent (1986; transl. 1991 as The Anthropology of Slavery: The Womb of Iron and Gold)
- "Essai d'interprétation du phénomène économique dans les sociétés traditionnelles d'autosubsistance", Cahiers d'études africaines, 1960, 4: 38-67
- “From Reproduction to Production: A Marxist Approach to Economic Anthropology.” Economy and Society 1(1), 1974