[adding page because of the unsettled ness my heart has w gift ness..as i’m reading refusal of work.. and the whole system encirclement of the market/capitalism on us and our relationships]
A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or return. An item is not a gift if that item is already owned by the one to whom it is given. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free. In many countries, the act of mutually exchanging money, goods, etc. may sustain social relations and contribute to social cohesion. Economists have elaborated the economics of gift-giving into the notion of a gift economy. By extension the term gift can refer to any item or act of service that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favor, including forgiveness and kindness. Gifts are also first and foremost presented on occasions such as birthdays and holidays.
As reinforcement and manipulation
Giving a gift to someone is not necessarily just an altruistic act. It may be given in the hope that the receiver reciprocates in a particular way. It may take the form of positive reinforcement as a reward for compliance, possibly for an underhand manipulative and abusive purpose.
A significant fraction of gifts are unwanted, or the giver pays more for the item than the recipient values it, resulting in a misallocation of economic resources known as a deadweight loss. Unwanted gifts are often regifted, donated to charity, or thrown away. A gift that actually imposes a burden on the recipient, either due to maintenance or storage or disposal costs, is known as a white elephant.
One means of reducing the mismatch between the buyer and receivers’ tastes is advance coordination, often undertaken in the form of a wedding registry or Christmas list. Wedding registries in particular are often kept at a single store, which can designate the exact items to be purchased (resulting in matching housewares), and to coordinate purchases so the same gift is not purchased by different guests. One study found that wedding guests who departed from the registry typically did so because they wished to signal a closer relationship to the couple by personalizing a gift, and also found that as a result of not abiding by the recipients’ preferences, their gifts were appreciated less often.
An estimated $3.4 billion was spent on unwanted Christmas gifts in the United States in 2017. The day after Christmas is typically the busiest day for returns in countries with large Christmas gift giving traditions. The total unredeemed value of gift cards purchased in the U.S. each year is estimated to be about a billion dollars
A gift economy, gift culture, or gift exchange is a mode of exchange where valuables are not traded or sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. This contrasts with a barter economy or a market economy, where goods and services are primarily exchanged for value received. Social norms and custom govern gift exchange. Gifts are not given in an explicit exchange of goods or services for money or some other commodity.
The nature of gift economies forms the subject of a foundational debate in anthropology. Anthropological research into gift economies began with Bronisław Malinowski’s description of the Kula ring in the Trobriand Islands during World War I. The Kula trade appeared to be gift-like since Trobrianders would travel great distances over dangerous seas to give what were considered valuable objects without any guarantee of a return. Malinowski’s debate with the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss quickly established the complexity of “gift exchange” and introduced a series of technical terms such as reciprocity, inalienable possessions, and prestation to distinguish between the different forms of exchange.
According to anthropologists Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry, it is the unsettled relationship between market and non-market exchange that attracts the most attention. Gift economies are said, by some, to build communities, and that the market serves as an acid on those relationships.
i’d say gift econs do as well.. just feeling you have to name it that..
Gift exchange is distinguished from other forms of exchange by a number of principles, such as the form of property rights governing the articles exchanged; whether gifting forms a distinct “sphere of exchange” that can be characterized as an “economic system”; and the character of the social relationship that the gift exchange establishes. Gift ideology in highly commercialized societies differs from the “prestations” typical of non-market societies. Gift economies must also be differentiated from several closely related phenomena, such as common property regimes and the exchange of non-commodified labour.
Property and alienability
Gift-giving is a form of transfer of property rights over particular objects. The nature of those property rights varies from society to society, from culture to culture, and are not universal. The nature of gift-giving is thus altered by the type of property regime in place.
Property is not a thing, but a relationship amongst people about things.
ugh.. indebtedness to each other..? rather than choosing
According to Chris Hann, property is a social relationship that governs the conduct of people with respect to the use and disposition of things. Anthropologists analyze these relationships in terms of a variety of actors’ (individual or corporate) “bundle of rights” over objects.
An example is the current debates around intellectual property rights. Hann and Strangelove both give the example of a purchased book (an object that he owns), over which the author retains a “copyright”. Although the book is a commodity, bought and sold, it has not been completely “alienated” from its creator who maintains a hold over it; the owner of the book is limited in what he can do with the book by the rights of the creator. Weiner has argued that the ability to give while retaining a right to the gift/commodity is a critical feature of the gifting cultures described by Malinowski and Mauss, and explains, for example, why some gifts such as Kula valuables return to their original owners after an incredible journey around the Trobriand islands. The gifts given in Kula exchange still remain, in some respects, the property of the giver.
why..? why must we claim ownership
In the example used above, “copyright” is one of those bundled rights that regulate the use and disposition of a book. Gift-giving in many societies is complicated because “private property” owned by an individual may be quite limited in scope. Productive resources, such as land, may be held by members of a corporate group (such as a lineage), but only some members of that group may have “use rights”. When many people hold rights over the same objects gifting has very different implications than the gifting of private property; only some of the rights in that object may be transferred, leaving that object still tied to its corporate owners. Anthropologist Annette Weiner refers to these types of objects as “inalienable possessions” and to the process as “keeping while giving“.
Gift vs. prestation
Malinowski’s study of the Kula ring became the subject of debate with the French anthropologist, Marcel Mauss, author of “The Gift” (“Essai sur le don”, 1925). In Parry’s view, Malinowski placed the emphasis on the exchange of goods between individuals, and their non-altruistic motives for giving the gift: they expected a return of equal or greater value. Malinowski stated that reciprocity is an implicit part of gifting; he contended there is no such thing as the “free gift” given without expectation.
Mauss, in contrast, emphasized that the gifts were not between individuals, but between representatives of larger collectivities. These gifts were, he argued, a “total prestation”. A prestation is a service provided out of a sense of obligation, like “community service”. They were not simple, alienable commodities to be bought and sold, but, like the “Crown jewels”, embodied the reputation, history and sense of identity of a “corporate kin group”, such as a line of kings. Given the stakes, Mauss asked “why anyone would give them away?” His answer was an enigmatic concept, “the spirit of the gift”. Parry believes that a good part of the confusion (and resulting debate) was due to a bad translation. Mauss appeared to be arguing that a return gift is given to keep the very relationship between givers alive; a failure to return a gift ends the relationship and the promise of any future gifts.
Both Malinowski and Mauss agreed that in non-market societies, where there was no clear institutionalized economic exchange system, gift/prestation exchange served economic, kinship, religious and political functions that could not be clearly distinguished from each other, and which mutually influenced the nature of the practice.
Reciprocity and the “spirit of the gift”
According to Chris Gregory reciprocity is a dyadic exchange relationship that we characterize, imprecisely, as gift-giving.
Gregory believes that one gives gifts to friends and potential enemies in order to establish a relationship, by placing them in debt.
debt as binder
He also claimed that in order for such a relationship to persist, there must be a time lag between the gift and counter-gift; one or the other partner must always be in debt, or there is no relationship.
we’re so messed up
Marshall Sahlins has stated that birthday gifts are an example of this. Sahlins notes that birthday presents are separated in time so that one partner feels the obligation to make a return gift; and to forget the return gift may be enough to end the relationship. Gregory has stated that without a relationship of debt, there is no reciprocity, and that this is what distinguishes a gift economy from a “true gift” given with no expectation of return (something Sahlins calls “generalized reciprocity”: see below).
Marshall Sahlins, an American cultural anthropologist, identified three main types of reciprocity in his book Stone Age Economics (1972).
1\Gift or generalized reciprocity is the exchange of goods and services without keeping track of their exact value, but often with the expectation that their value will balance out over time.
2\ Balanced or Symmetrical reciprocity occurs when someone gives to someone else, expecting a fair and tangible return at a specified amount, time, and place.
3\ Market or Negative reciprocity is the exchange of goods and services where each party intends to profit from the exchange, often at the expense of the other. Gift economies, or generalized reciprocity, occurred within closely knit kin groups, and the more distant the exchange partner, the more balanced or negative the exchange became.
The “generalized reciprocity” time-lag in recent years, also applies as an allowance for spontaneity and creativity that enables both parties to demonstrate love in surprising ways. In a market exchange, the giving party loses an item to gain income while the receiving party loses income to gain an item, a +1 -1 transaction that leads to 0 goodwill remaining on average. In a giving relationship, the giving party loses the item, but gains the joy of doing good for someone they appreciate, while the receiving party still gains not just something, but something that is tailored to their tastes, transaction value +1(receiver) +1(giver) -1(giver) +1(personalization as sign of love for the receiver) for a total of +2 goodwill added to the relationship. This expanding goodwill deepens social capital exchanged in close communities and leaves a “relationship bank” for community members to tap into when they are in need of help in the future. This belief is a core part of the culture of Burning Man as well.
Within the virtual world, the proliferation of public domain content, Creative Common Licences, and Open Source projects have also contributed to what might be considered an economics game changer variable.
changer.. not game changer
Charity, debt, and the “poison of the gift”
…Parry also underscored, using the example of charitable giving of alms in India (Dāna), that the “pure gift” of alms given with no expectation of return could be “poisonous”. That is, the gift of alms embodying the sins of the giver, when given to ritually pure priests, saddled these priests with impurities that they could not cleanse themselves of. “Pure gifts”, given without a return, can place recipients in debt, and hence in dependent status: the poison of the gift. David Graeber points out that no reciprocity is expected between unequals: if you make a gift of a dollar to a beggar, he will not give it back the next time you meet. More than likely, he will ask for more, to the detriment of his status.Many who are forced by circumstances to accept charity feel stigmatized. In the Moka exchange system of Papua New Guinea, where gift givers become political “big men”, those who are in their debt and unable to repay with “interest” are referred to as “rubbish men”.
The French writer Georges Bataille, in La part Maudite, uses Mauss’s argument in order to construct a theory of economy: the structure of gift is the presupposition for all possible economy. Bataille is particularly interested in the potlatch as described by Mauss, and claims that its agonistic character obliges the receiver of the gift to confirm their own subjection. Gift-giving thus embodies the Hegelian dipole of master and slave within the act.
Case studies: Prestations
Merit making in Buddhist Thailand
Theravada Buddhism in Thailand emphasizes the importance of giving alms (merit making) without any intention of return (a pure gift), which is best accomplished according to doctrine, through gifts to monks and temples.
if it’s merit making.. how is it not w intention of a return..?.. ie: merit as return..
The emphasis is on the selfless gifting which “earns merit” (and a future better life) for the giver rather than on the relief of the poor or the recipient on whom the gift is bestowed.
selfless..? earns merit..? one in the same..? i don’t think so
The Children of Peace in Canada
..The group soon found that the charity they tried to distribute from their Temple fund endangered the poor. Accepting charity was a sign of indebtedness, and the debtor could be jailed without trial at the time; this was the “poison of the gift”. They thus transformed their charity fund into a credit union that loaned small sums like today’s micro-credit institutions. This is an example of singularization, as money was transformed into charity in the Temple ceremony, then shifted to an alternate exchange sphere as a loan. Interest on the loan was then singularized, and transformed back into charity.
Gifting as non-commodified exchange in market societies
Copyleft vs copyright: the gift of “free” speech
Engineers, scientists and software developers have created free software projects such as the Linux kernel and the GNU operating system. They are prototypical examples for the gift economy’s prominence in the technology sector and its active role in instating the use of permissive free software and copyleft licenses, which allow free reuse of software and knowledge. Other examples include file-sharing and open access.
“Give-away shops”, “freeshops” or “free stores” are stores where all goods are free.
.. The event is described as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. The event forbids commerce (except for ice, coffee, and tickets to the event itself) and encourages gifting.
Cannabis market in the District of Columbia and U.S. states
According to the Associated Press, “Gift-giving has long been a part of marijuana culture” and has accompanied legalization in U.S. states in the 2010s.
Many anarchists, particularly anarcho-primitivists and anarcho-communists, believe that variations on a gift economy may be the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Therefore, they often desire to refashion all of society into a gift economy. Anarcho-communists advocate a gift economy as an ideal, with neither money, nor markets, nor central planning. This view traces back at least to Peter Kropotkin, who saw in the hunter-gatherer tribes he had visited the paradigm of “mutual aid”. In place of a market, anarcho-communists, such as those who inhabited some Spanish villages in the 1930s, support a currency-less gift economy where goods and services are produced by workers and distributed in community stores where everyone (including the workers who produced them) is essentially entitled to consume whatever they want or need as payment for their production of goods and services.
Some may confuse common property regimes with gift exchange systems. “Commons” refers to the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. The resources held in common can include everything from natural resources and common land to software. The commons contains public property and private property, over which people have certain traditional rights. When commonly held property is transformed into private property this process alternatively is termed “enclosure” or more commonly, “privatization”. A person who has a right in, or over, common land jointly with another or others is called a commoner.
i’m thinking if it’s not everything.. then it’s not really common ing
The new intellectual commons: free content
Free content, or free information, is any kind of functional work, artwork, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work. A free cultural work is one which has no significant legal restriction on people’s freedom:
- to use the content and benefit from using it,
- to study the content and apply what is learned,
- to make and distribute copies of the content,
- to change and improve the content and distribute these derivative works.
Free and open-source software
Collaborative works are works created by an open community. For example, Wikipedia – a free online encyclopedia – features millions of articles developed collaboratively, and almost none of its many authors and editors receive any direct material reward
reminds me of reputation econ et al
we have to get back to our undisturbed ecosystem
the giving tree