This article needs additional citations for verification . (June 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Part of a series on|
| Economic, applied, and development |
|Social and cultural anthropology|
The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies (French : Essai sur le don: forme et raison de l'échange dans les sociétés archaïques) is a 1925 essay by the French sociologist Marcel Mauss that is the foundation of social theories of reciprocity and gift exchange.
Mauss's original piece was entitled Essai sur le don. Forme et raison de l'échange dans les sociétés archaïques ("An essay on the gift: the form and reason of exchange in archaic societies") and was originally published in L'Année Sociologique in 1925.The essay was later republished in French in 1950 and translated into English in 1954 by Ian Cunnison, in 1990 by W. D. Halls, and in 2016 by Jane I. Guyer.
Mauss's essay focuses on the way that the exchange of objects between groups builds relationships between humans.
It analyzes the economic practices of various so-called archaic societies and finds that they have a common central practice centered on reciprocal exchange. In them, he finds evidence contrary to the presumptions of modern Western societies about the history and nature of exchange. He shows that early exchange systems center around the obligations to give, to receive, and, most importantly, to reciprocate. They occur between groups, not only individuals, and they are a crucial part of “total phenomena” that work to build not just wealth and alliances but social solidarity because “the gift” pervades all aspects of the society. He uses a comparative method, drawing upon published secondary scholarship on peoples from around the world, but especially the Pacific Northwest (especially potlatch).
After examining the reciprocal gift-giving practices of each, he finds in them common features, despite some variation. From the disparate evidence, he builds a case for a foundation to human society based on collective (vs. individual) exchange practices. In so doing, he refutes the English tradition of liberal thought, such as utilitarianism, as distortions of human exchange practices. He concludes by speculating that social welfare programs may be recovering some aspects of the morality of the gift within modern market economies.
The Gift has been very influential in anthropology, where there is a large field of study devoted to reciprocity and exchange. It has also influenced philosophers, artists, and political activists, including Georges Bataille, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, and more recently the work of David Graeber and the British theologian John Milbank. Many today see Mauss's work as a guide to how giving can promote a better way of living. The gift-giving and exchange practices Mauss described were often self-interested, but at the same time had a concern for others; the main point of the traditional gift is that it furthers both of these human aspects at the same time.
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the characteristics of different peoples and the relationships between them.
A gift economy or gift culture is a mode of exchange where valuables are not traded or sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. Social norms and customs govern gifting in a gift culture, gifts are not given in an explicit exchange of goods or services for money, or some other commodity or service. This contrasts with a barter economy or a market economy, where goods and services are primarily explicitly exchanged for value received.
Georges Albert Maurice Victor Bataille was a French intellectual and literary figure working in literature, philosophy, anthropology, consumerism, sociology and history of art. His writing, which included essays, novels, and poetry, explored such subjects as erotism, mysticism, surrealism, and transgression. His work would prove influential on subsequent schools of philosophy and social theory, including poststructuralism.
Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher and cultural theorist. He is best known for his analyses of media, contemporary culture, and technological communication, as well as his formulation of concepts such as simulation and hyperreality. He wrote about diverse subjects, including consumerism, gender relations, economics, social history, art, Western foreign policy, and popular culture. Among his best known works are Simulacra and Simulation (1981), America (1986), and The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1991). His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and specifically post-structuralism.
Economic anthropology is a field that attempts to explain human economic behavior in its widest historic, geographic and cultural scope. It is an amalgamation of economics and anthropology.It is practiced by anthropologists and has a complex relationship with the discipline of economics, of which it is highly critical. Its origins as a sub-field of anthropology began with work by the Polish founder of anthropology Bronislaw Malinowski and the French Marcel Mauss on the nature of reciprocity as an alternative to market exchange. For the most part, studies in economic anthropology focus on exchange. In contrast, the Marxian school known as "political economy" focuses on production.
Marcel Mauss was a French sociologist. The nephew of Émile Durkheim, Mauss' academic work traversed the boundaries between sociology and anthropology. Today, he is perhaps better recognised for his influence on the latter discipline, particularly with respect to his analyses of topics such as magic, sacrifice, and gift exchange in different cultures around the world. Mauss had a significant influence upon Claude Lévi-Strauss, the founder of structural anthropology. His most famous work is The Gift (1925).
The College of Sociology was a loosely-knit group of French intellectuals, named after the informal discussion series that they held in Paris between 1937 and 1939, when it was disrupted by the war.
In cultural anthropology, reciprocity refers to the non-market exchange of goods or labour ranging from direct barter to forms of gift exchange where a return is eventually expected as in the exchange of birthday gifts. It is thus distinct from the true gift, where no return is expected.
Kula, also known as the Kula exchange or Kularing, is a ceremonial exchange system conducted in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. The Kula ring was made famous by the father of modern anthropology, Bronisław Malinowski, who used this test case to argue for the universality of rational decision making, and for the cultural nature of the object of their effort. Malinowski's path-breaking work, Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), directly confronted the question, "why would men risk life and limb to travel across huge expanses of dangerous ocean to give away what appear to be worthless trinkets?" Malinowski carefully traced the network of exchanges of bracelets and necklaces across the Trobriand Islands, and established that they were part of a system of exchange, and that this exchange system was clearly linked to political authority. Malinowski's study became the subject of debate with the French anthropologist, Marcel Mauss, author of The Gift. Since then, the Kula ring has been central to the continuing anthropological debate on the nature of gift giving, and the existence of gift economies.
Hau is a notion made popular by the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss in his 1925 book The Gift. Surveying the practice of gifting, he came to the conclusion that it involved belief in a force binding the receiver and giver. The term 'Hau', used by Māori, became a paradigmatic example for such a view. Writing at the turn of the century, Mauss relied on limited sources but his analysis has been expanded and refined.
Structural anthropology is a school of anthropology based on Claude Lévi-Strauss' idea that immutable deep structures exist in all cultures, and consequently, that all cultural practices have homologous counterparts in other cultures, essentially that all cultures are equitable.
Jean Rousset was a Swiss literary critic who worked on French literature, and in particular on Baroque literature of the late Renaissance and early seventeenth century. He is sometimes grouped with the Geneva School and with early Structuralism.
Paul-Louis Huvelin (1873–1924), generally known as Paul Huvelin, was a French legal historian.
"Gifting remittances" describes a range of scholarly approaches relating remittances to anthropological literature on gift giving. The terms draws on Lisa Cliggett's "gift remitting", but is used to describe a wider body of work. Broadly speaking, remittances are the money, goods, services, and knowledge that migrants send back to their home communities or families. Remittances are typically considered as the economic transactions from migrants to those at home. While remittances are also a subject of international development and policy debate and sociological and economic literature, this article focuses on ties with literature on gifting and reciprocity or gift economy founded largely in the work of Marcel Mauss and Marshall Sahlins. While this entry focuses on remittances of money or goods, remittances also take the form of ideas and knowledge. For more on these, see Peggy Levitt's work on "social remittances" which she defines as "the ideas, behaviors, identities, and social capital that flow from receiving to sending country communities."
The social norm of reciprocity is the expectation that people will respond to each other in similar ways—responding to gifts and kindnesses from others with similar benevolence of their own, and responding to harmful, hurtful acts from others with either indifference or some form of retaliation. Such norms can be crude and mechanical, such as a literal reading of the eye-for-an-eye rule lex talionis, or they can be complex and sophisticated, such as a subtle understanding of how anonymous donations to an international organization can be a form of reciprocity for the receipt of very personal benefits, such as the love of a parent.
Inalienable possessions are things such as land or objects that are symbolically identified with the groups that own them and so cannot be permanently severed from them. Landed estates in the Middle Ages, for example, had to remain intact and even if sold, they could be reclaimed by blood kin. As a legal classification, inalienable possessions date back to Roman times. According to Barbara Mills, "Inalienable possessions are objects made to be kept, have symbolic and economic power that cannot be transferred, and are often used to authenticate the ritual authority of corporate groups".
Several authors have used the terms organ gifting and "tissue gifting" to describe processes behind organ and tissue transfers that are not captured by more traditional terms such as donation and transplantation. The concept of "gift of life" in the U.S. refers to the fact that "transplantable organs must be given willingly, unselfishly, and anonymously, and any money that is exchanged is to be perceived as solely for operational costs, but never for the organs themselves". "Organ gifting" is proposed to contrast with organ commodification. The maintenance of a spirit of altruism in this context has been interpreted by some as a mechanism through which the economic relations behind organ/tissue production, distribution, and consumption can be disguised. Organ/tissue gifting differs from commodification in the sense that anonymity and social trust are emphasized to reduce the offer and request of monetary compensation. It is reasoned that the implementation of the gift-giving analogy to organ transactions shows greater respect for the diseased body, honors the donor, and transforms the transaction into a morally acceptable and desirable act that is borne out of voluntarism and altruism.
Alain Testart was a French social anthropologist, emeritus research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris and member of the Laboratory for Social Anthropology at the Collège de France. He specialized in primitives societies and comparative anthropology. His research themes included: slavery, marriage arrangements, funeral practices, gift and exchange, typology of societies, the political, the evolution of the societies, and questions of interpretation in prehistoric archaeology.
Essai variously means attempt, test, trial, or essay in French.
Éditions Galilée is a French publishing house located in Paris, founded in 1971 by Michel Delorme. It specialises in philosophy, French literature, arts and human sciences. Focusing on deconstructionist thought of Jacques Derrida, Galilée is also close to postmodernist thought.