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importance of studying the exchange of gifts
we gift out of self-interest and obligation; we want to increase our authority; it increases our self-esteem and power
- an indigenous giving ceremony, it's an example of the large scale givings between groups or societies
- it is an exchange between communities, not individuals
to give, to receive, to reciporcate
meaning of obligations - to give
- in order to demonstrate some sort of power or authority or showing genuine generosity
- -obligation to share wealth, to redistribute the benefits of a potlatch
- >> way to demonstrate/ accrue authority, social esteem, status, power
meaning of obligations - to receive
- shows gratitude
- not accepting lose face
- Not accepting = war, or admission of inferiority
- accept in order to not indicate that you are of a lower rank.
- the gift is part of the giver’s soul (to refuse gift= to cut off a social tie OR admit the inability to reciprocate the gift)
meaning of obligations - to reciprocate
- receiver feels indebted to the giver
- the cycle of social life depends on people being in debt of others
- Counter-gift must be different for the cycle to continue
*the cycle of gift giving, receiving, and reciprocating indicates...
a social hierarchy because the receiver always feels indebted to the gift giver. The gift giver has authority until the gift is reciprocated*
total social fact
Gift exchange as a fundamental social structure that underlies a whole series of social institutions (economic, political, religious life, etc)
social structure of gift exchanges
= credit comes first; money develops from credit as a technique that facilitate calculation and not the other way around
Mauss turns the idea of gift giving to encompass not just individual behavior but...
how it reflects the dynamic of the collectivity