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 ?
The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy (reprint, 1997)
Medical sociologists only recently have begun to emerge in their considerations of gift-giving--earlier work being done by Richard Titmuss in 1971, when he published The Gift Relationship, a study on how we handle human blood for transfusion.
In a recent issue of The Spectator, Christopher Snowden had a go at applying the gift relationship to organ donation.
As a young undergraduate at the LSE (at that time, far more interested in social administration than politics), I remember the superb Professor Brian Abel-Smith lecturing us about his supervisor and mentor, Richard Titmuss and his seminal text, the Gift Relationship. Titmuss argued that blood donation was better served without any market or financial incentive as this effectively crowded out altruism.
Those of you who know Richard Titmuss' wonderful book, The Gift Relationship, or Marcel Mauss' wonderful book on The Gift will know that rights talk and gift talk are two very different languages.
This breadth of expertise quickly became apparent during the first stage of the Project: a summer discussion series in which colleagues helped lead conversations about classic works and debates in law and markets (1)--from the foundational debate over altruism and markets in Richard Titmuss's The Gift Relationship, (2) to the role of markets as engines for development in Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom, (3) to the relationship between the constitutional status of corporations and Milton Friedman's The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits.
In his Gift Relationship, Titmuss (4) famously argues against introducing direct economic calculation in blood donation services.
But they sometimes create a gift relationship and gratitude that goes along with it.
While other work, by Testart (1998), Laidlaw (2000), Hyde (2006), and Hird (2010), for example, has questioned the nexus between gift and reciprocation (on the basis that a gift is not a gift if it depends on reciprocation), Mauss's underlying theorisation of the gift relationship is now well accepted, although we argue in this paper that it has considerable potential for further development in order to theorise nature-society relations.
He thought for a second and named The Gift Relationship by Richard M Titmus, a classic work about blood donations that has had a major impact in other areas of political thought.
We are accustomed to using logic models to assess social benefit but are not adept at using other models to account for economic impact, including nonmonetary volunteer exchanges through the "gift relationship" (Titmuss, 1971).
This article draws on empirical evidence from interviews with 16 Australian major donors, defined as those who gave at least a single gift of at least AU$10,000 in 2008 or 2009, to identify what constitutes from their perspective a good or bad major gift relationship. The insights gleaned from this research have implications for how major gift relationships are understood and practised.