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Free gifts and positional gifts: beyond exchangism

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journal contribution
posted on 06.05.2015 by Dave Elder-Vass
Social theories of giving have often been shaped by anthropological accounts that present it as a form of pre-market reciprocal exchange, yet this exchangist discourse obscures important contemporary giving practices. This paper discusses two types of giving that confound the exchangist model: sharing practices within the family, and free gifts to strangers. Once we reject understandings of giving derived from analyses of non-modern economies, it becomes possible to see that the gift economy is not a rare survival but rather a central element of contemporary society and indeed the contemporary economy. The task for social theory is not to anachronise giving but to make sense of the variety and complexity of actual contemporary giving practices. This paper offers the categories of free and positional gifts as a contribution to this analysis.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

European Journal of Social Theory

Volume

Available online on OnlineFirst

Pages

? - ? (TBA)

Citation

ELDER-VASS, D.J., 2015. Free gifts and positional gifts: beyond exchangism. European Journal of Social Theory, 18(4), pp.451-468.

Publisher

© Sage

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2015

Notes

The final published version of this paper can be found at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1368431014566562

ISSN

1368-4310

eISSN

1461-7137

Language

en

Exports