Anthropology, Culture
Comment 1

The Gift

The Gift

The gift, a seemingly simple act, is actually a canvas where meanings and expectations interlace.

Marcel Mauss has reconstructed the dynamics of the gift in a famous essay, The Gift, published by Routledge. Here he explains that “the voluntary nature of the gift, so to speak, is only apparently free and independent. The gift is actually bound and affected to the very moment it is performed in a social setting”.

This means that the social phenomenon of the gift intertwines with other obligations: giving, receiving and reciprocating. It is actually in the gift that the principle of reciprocity takes form. The exchange brings together people and starts – or challenges – social relationships that are built – or ended – over time, with other exchanges, with other gifts.

The energy of giving, receiving and returning, or failing the return expectations, or in inadequate forms, may build and consolidate – or not – social relations.

© Melissa Pignatelli 2012
Source: Marcel Mauss, The Gift, Routledge, 1990 (First Publication in French in 1950)

1 Comment

  1. martinezrenuncio says

    Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    What is the purpose of gift giving in our society? When are gifts expected or needed?

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