gift exchange

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gift exchange


gift relationship

a reciprocal relationship of exchanging goods and services. Marcel MAUSS wrote a seminal book, The Gift (1925), in which he argued that gift-giving and taking is one of the bonds that cohere societies. Systems like the KULA RING and POTLATCH provide a system of obligations that comprise a network of ‘presentations’which fuse economic, spiritual and political values into a unified system. These insights were elaborated by the anthropologist LÉVI-STRAUSS into a structural theory of group alliance in which he argues that patterns of giving, receiving and repaying, as individuals and groups, reflect the deepest structures of societies. This was applied, in particular, to the movement of women in and out of a patrilineage (see PATRILINEAL DESCENT).

TITMUSS also used these ideas in his The Gift Relationship (1970), a study of blood donors in the UK, US and USSR. Titmuss argues that the giving of blood in the UK, without material reward, reflects a sense of community that the other two countries do not have. The analysis of ALTRUISM in Titmuss's examination of the British blood donor service and the idea of the unilateral, anonymous and voluntary gift has been important in discussions of SOCIAL POLICY.

Ideas of exchange have also been applied to other areas of formal gift-giving in industrialized societies (e.g. the exchange of birthday presents), but the presence of complex market mechanisms complicates simplistic formulations of exchange. Compare EXCHANGE THEORY.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
There is no gift exchange and no official press availability, although photo opportunities may be possible.
Marxists: In societies in which profit is derived exclusively from surplus value "donated" (as part of the capitalist labor process) by workers, and which reflects the capitalists' extractive power (bequeathed to them by one-sided property rights over the means of production), the Christmas tradition of gift exchange packs dialectical significance.
A Spiritual Economy: Gift Exchange in the Letters of Paul of Tarsus
One of my gift exchange bags was Vermont-themed and filled with goods that were all grown or made locally, such as cheese; goat's milk soap; apples; chocolates; and locally-brewed beer, wine, and mead.
That's the central question in It's Not the Thought That Counts: A Field Experiment on Gift Exchange and Giving at a Public University (NBER Working Paper No.
On December 15, members joined the Trinkets 'n' Trash social hour for a White Elephant gift exchange, where industry swag--and a few festive laughs--were swapped.
Imran Khan further stated that Pakistan had been going through immense crises in terms of foreign policy, relations with India had been based on personal belongings rather than considering it a part of international diplomacy and terms with the west could not be established on 'gift exchange' policy, Imran added.
The Issues hitmakers usually do a Secret Santa gift exchange for one another but they've been unable to find a date to get together before the end of the year.
The highlight of most Christmas Parties (apart from the great food) is the gift exchange. There are many ways to go about it: some will be subtle and have a Kris Kringle-type situation in place for the week leading up to the actual party, others are pretty straightforward.
In fact, you might want to try these alternatives: donate to a charity in someone's name; give homemade gifts; or start a family gift exchange.
Watch out this Christmas for something called the Secret Sister Gift Exchange.
Van Heekeren looks at Vula'a exchange as the foundation of what the author refers to as a 'participatory ontology': this ontology generates the ways of being most closely associated with gift exchange and social obligations.