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Lecture 7 Mauss, gifts and commodities. gift : commodity.

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture 7 Mauss, gifts and commodities. gift : commodity."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture 7 Mauss, gifts and commodities

2 gift : commodity

3 Mauss: evolutionary development Gift societies - the structure of kinship typically provides the basis of peoples identity, relations and obligations. Industrial societies - dominated by commodity relations and market exchange between individuals

4 Malinowski - continuum from pure gifts to real barter. Exchanges are essentially dyadic transactions between self- interested individuals. Mauss - It is not individuals but groups or moral persons who carry out exchange.

5 A total social phenomenon Transactions in goods and property is not the only element of exchange. Fulfilling an obligation to give does not discharge it, but recreates it by reaffirming the relation of with the obligation is part. Obligation to give and reciprocate. Exchange creates enduring social relations.

6 Hau – the spirit of the gift Among the Mauri certain items called taonga are strongly linked to the person, the clan and the earth. Obligation to return. The hau which wishes to return to its birthplace, sanctuary of the forest and clan, and to the owner. Persons and things: It is because the thing contains the person that the gift creates enduring bond between persons

7 Summary Gift exchanges is the (1) obligatory transfer of (2) inalienable objects or services between (3) related and mutually obligated transactors. G

8 James Carrier - Ideology of the gift The opposition between the pure disinterested gift and calculating barter emerges within modern industrial society. The household became a realm of domestic affection distinct from an outside world of commerce. Gift relationships lost their material dimension - stand instead in opposition to calculating and material commodity relations. The present: altruistic, moral and loaded with emotion.

9 Gift exchange and personhood Transactors are related in terms of their inalienable attributes They are not individuals who are defined independent of social relations They are social persons defined in their inalienable positions in a structure of social relations that encompasses them

10 Commodity exchange and personhood The perfect present is freely given The free, independent individual motivated by internal will Neither bound to give nor bound by giving Central element of the Western liberal tradition

11 Tension between gift and commodity Need to have the gift express the givers identity but the objects available are impersonal mass commodities Appropriation Christmas - people demonstrate that they can transform commodities and use them to recreate enduring personal relations.

12 The impersonal economy? Gifts and commodities represent not exclusive categories but poles defining a continuum. Gift and commodity are analytical tools rather than empirical descriptions The economy is permeated by social relations: at the margins of reputable commercial transactions, the black economy etc.

13 Occidentalism Western constructions of home and work are not accurate descriptions but ways of expressing a fundamental distinction Mausss work manifests both orientalism (Edward Said) and occidentalism The notions of the autonomous individual and the separation of the economic and social are the West talking to itself about itself and its dominance in the world.

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