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The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies Paperback – August 17, 2000
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For those interested in the history of anthropology and its development over time, Mauss was one of Durkheim's greatest students (Durkheim was also Mauss' uncle) and his influence can be seen quite a bit in this work. While Durkheim believed in the individual and the potential for individual action, he was a vocal critic of individualism per se. For example, he recognized that it couldn't explain rule-governed action, a phenomenon rife in every culture. Durkheim's positivism is also on display; Mauss never feels his point is made unless he has shown it several times over with people from different parts of the world.
The main idea here is the centrality of what Mauss calls the "gift." What is a gift? It is an item given within a complex set of social relations and institutions which at the same time comprises those relations and institutions. Mauss also emphasizes that most all cultures see gifts as obligatory and mutual. "Even the idea of a pure gift is a contradiction.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Marcel Mauss was Emil Durkheim’s nephew and protégé. Durkheim’s attention and support paid off. In THE GIFT, Mauss ponders The Big Idea. Read morePublished 23 days ago by krebsman
A well-researched historical and anthropological work; an enlightening perspective on gift economies and social consciousness. Read morePublished 6 months ago by RN
This is what I still see in the South Pacific. A very good account of systems such as kerikeri.Published 11 months ago by Cristanna M. Cook
This edition is on a low quality paper, which doesn't justify the price. Better to pay a bit more for a bit better paper qualityPublished 21 months ago by EL
Worth the read because it responds to the lurking suspicion in my mind that there is more to philanthropy than selfless giving. Read morePublished on May 17, 2013 by Ted Flack