- gift exchange
Transfer of goods or services that, although regarded as voluntary by those involved, is part of expected social behaviour.First studied by Marcel Mauss, the gift-exchange cycle entails obligations to give, receive, and return, each phase being surrounded with sanctions and calculations involving prestige and the maintenance of social relations. Some sacrifices may be viewed as gifts to supernatural powers from which a return in the form of aid or approval is expected; and the transfer of women in marriage between kin groups usually involves social obligations similar to those found in gift exchange. See also potlatch.
* * *▪ social customalso called ceremonial exchangethe transfer of goods or services that, although regarded as voluntary by the people involved, is part of the expected social behaviour. Gift exchange may be distinguished from other types of exchange in several respects: the first offering is made in a generous manner and there is no haggling between donor and recipient; the exchange is an expression of an existing social relationship or of the establishment of a new one that differs from impersonal market relationships; and the profit in gift exchange may be in the sphere of social relationships and prestige rather than in material advantage.The gift-exchange cycle entails obligations to give, to receive, and to return. Sanctions may exist to induce people to give, disapproval or loss of prestige resulting from a failure to do so. Refusal to accept a gift may be seen as refusal of social relations and may lead to enmity. The reciprocity of the cycle rests in the obligation to return the gift; the prestige associated with the appearance of generosity dictates that the value of the return be approximately equal to or greater than the value of the original gift.The French anthropologist Marcel Mauss (Mauss, Marcel) made the first extended application of the idea of gift exchange to various aspects of social life, stressing the social concomitants of the exchange rather than its economic functions. A gift exchange may not only provide a recipient with what amounts to credit for a period but also validates, supports, and expresses a social relationship in terms of the status of those concerned. The concept of reciprocity behind gift exchange has been extended into the field of ritual and religion. Thus, some sacrifices may be viewed as gifts to supernatural powers from which a return in the form of aid and approval is expected. Reciprocal social relations, as in the transfer of women in marriage between kin groups, is similar in terms of obligations and types of relationships to gift exchange. Gift exchange such as the potlatch (q.v.) of the Northwest Pacific coast Indians has also been analyzed as an adaptive subsistence aspect of a socioeconomic system allowing for redistribution of surplus wealth and food in certain ecological settings. See also kula.
* * *
Look at other dictionaries:
White elephant gift exchange — A white elephant gift exchange is a popular holiday party game found primarily in North America. It has many variations in both the name and the game play. Generally, white elephant parties need a minimum of six participants. With a larger group … Wikipedia
exchange theory — Exchange theories view social order as the unplanned outcome of acts of exchange between members of society. There are two major variants. Rational choice (or, as it is sometimes known, rational action) theory locates the source of order in the… … Dictionary of sociology
Gift economy — Watercolor by James G. Swan depicting the Klallam people of chief Chetzemoka at Port Townsend, with one of Chetzemoka s wives distributing potlatch … Wikipedia
exchange — exchanger, n. /iks chaynj /, v., exchanged, exchanging, n. v.t. 1. to give up (something) for something else; part with for some equivalent; change for another. 2. to replace (returned merchandise) with an equivalent or something else: Most… … Universalium
gift token — or gift voucher noun A printed card that can be used in payment or exchange for buying certain products to the value of the amount shown • • • Main Entry: ↑gift * * * gift token UK US noun [countable] [singular gift token … Useful english dictionary
gift — n 1: an intentional and gratuitous transfer of real or personal property by a donor with legal capacity who actually or constructively delivers the property to the donee with the intent of giving up dominion over the property and investing it in… … Law dictionary
gift token — UK / US or gift voucher UK / US noun [countable] Word forms gift token : singular gift token plural gift tokens British a document that you buy in a shop as a present for someone, so that they can come to the shop later and exchange it for… … English dictionary
gift voucher — gift token UK / US or gift voucher UK / US noun [countable] Word forms gift token : singular gift token plural gift tokens British a document that you buy in a shop as a present for someone, so that they can come to the shop later and exchange it … English dictionary
gift certificate — gift cer,tificate noun count AMERICAN a document that you buy in a store as a present for someone, so they can come to the store later and exchange it for something they want … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English
gift — by Paul Hegarty Marcel Mauss s The Gift (1966) is a central inﬂuence on Baudrillard. In this book, Mauss outlines the many ways in which exchange can be based on gift giving rather than profit extraction. His conclusion, that the residual… … The Baudrillard dictionary