A gift economy or gift culture is an economic model, where goods are not sold, but they are given away, without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. There are social norms and customs about the exact way the gift is given. In a gift culture, gifts are not given in an explicit exchange of goods or services for money, or some other commodity or service. In contrast, in a barter economy or a market economy goods and services are exhanged for a received value, usually money.
Anthropologists discussed the nature of gift economies. Research began with Bronisław Malinowski's description of the Kula ring in the Trobriand Islands during World War I. The Kula trade appeared to be gift-like because Trobrianders would travel great distances over dangerous seas to give what were considered valuable objects without any guarantee of a return. Malinkowski had a discussion with French anthropologist Marcel Mauss: This showed that gift economy was more complex that they first thought. They also introduced a number of technical terms to describe the different forms of exchange. Some of these terms are reciprocity, inalienable possessions, and presentation.
Anthropologists Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry think that the unsettled relationship between market and non-market exchange will attract most attention. Some authors argue that gift economies build community, while markets harm community relationships.
Some things that make gift exhange different from other forms of exhange. Usually, the idea of property, and property rights are different. Sometimes gifting forms a distinct "sphere of exchange" that is an "economic system". Giving a gift always establishes a social relationship. The nature of giving a gift in a market economy,is very different from "prestations" typical of non-market societies. Gift economies also differ from related phenomena, such as common property regimes and the exchange of non-commodified labour.
Potlatch[change | change source]
Potlatch is a celebration of native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. During the celebration, there is a ritual exchange of gifts. The value of the gifts demonstrates the wealth, power and influience of the person giving the gifts. Marcel Mauss saw this an example of a ruinous competition: The gifts often caused the ruin of the person giving them, or his tribe. That way, Potlatch was outlwawed in Canada, in late 19th century. There was a push to re-introduce the tradition in the 1950s.
Related pages[change | change source]
Notes[change | change source]
- ↑ Cheal, David J (1988). "1". The Gift Economy. New York: Routledge. pp. 1–19. ISBN 0415006414. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
- ↑ Offer, A. (August 1997). "Between the Gift and the Market: The Economy of Regard" (PDF). The Economic History Review, New Series. 50 (3): 450–476. doi:10.1111/1468-0289.00064.
- ↑ Malinowski, Bronislaw (1922). Argonauts of the Western Pacific. London.
- ↑ Keesing, Roger; Strathern, Andrew (1988). Cultural Anthropology. A Contemporary Perspective. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace and Company. p. 165.
- ↑ Mauss, Marcel (1970). The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. London: Cohen & West.
- ↑ Weiner, Annette (1992). Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-while-Giving. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- ↑ J. Parry, M. Bloch (1989). "Introduction" in Money and the Morality of Exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 8–12.
Further reading[change | change source]
The concept of a gift economy has played a large role in works of fiction about alternative societies, especially in works of science fiction. Examples include:
- News from Nowhere (1890) by William Morris is a utopian novel about a society which operates on a gift economy.
- The Great Explosion (1962) by Eric Frank Russell describes the encounter of a military survey ship and a Gandhian pacifist society that operates as a gift economy.
- The Dispossessed (1974) by Ursula K. Le Guin is a novel about a gift economy society that had exiled themselves from their (capitalist) home planet.
- The Mars trilogy, a series of books written by Kim Stanley Robinson in the 1990s, suggests that new human societies that develop away from Earth could migrate toward a gift economy.
- The movie Pay It Forward (2000) centers on a schoolboy who, for a school project, comes up with the idea of doing a good deed for another and then asking the recipient to "pay it forward". Although the phrase "gift economy" is never explicitly mentioned, the scheme would, in effect, create one.
- Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003) by Cory Doctorow describes future society where rejuvenation and body-enhancement have made death obsolete, and material goods are no longer scarce, resulting in a reputation-based (whuffie) economic system.
- Wizard's Holiday (2003) by Diane Duane describes two young wizards visiting a utopian-like planet whose economy is based on gift-giving and mutual support.
- Voyage from Yesteryear (1982) by James P. Hogan describes a society of the embryo colonists of Alpha Centauri who have a post-scarcity gift economy.
- Cradle of Saturn (1999) and its sequel The Anguished Dawn (2003) by James P. Hogan describe a colonization effort on Saturn's largest satellite. Both describe the challenges involved in adopting a new economic paradigm.
- Science fiction author Bruce Sterling wrote a story, Maneki-neko, in which the cat-paw gesture is the sign of a secret AI-based gift economy.
- The Gift Economy. Writings and videos of Genevieve Vaughan and associated scholars.