Gift Giving in Societies Sample Essay

Reciprocity is a signifier of gift exchange whereby objects have no construct of sensed value. Social addition is seen as more of import than any possible economic consequence in this system. An object would be presented to another and this gesture insure societal dealingss. a return object ( or gesture ) may be presented at a ulterior day of the month. but the chief purpose of reciprocality exchange would be the strengthening of societal bonds.

An illustration of reciprocality exchange would be that of the Kula ring ( described by Malinoski ) in this system objects of perceived value are exchanged in a uninterrupted rhythm. which links several islands in the country. These objects ( shell necklaces and armbands ) are exchanged by persons in ritual ceremonials where the links between these islands are reinforced and duties to one another created.

Societies which pattern a reciprocality signifier of exchange can make so for several different motivations but in all instances the social/political facet overrides and economic addition. In the Kula pealing the system ensures that all of the islands will help one another in times of trouble. alleviating societal tenseness and AIDSs in societal stableness which take awaying nil from the local economy/resources. The Dani. nevertheless. although still practising a signifier of reciprocality do so for the addition of societal position of large adult male by conspicuous shows of wealth. power and of import through their gift giving activities.

It can be hard for people of a western civilization to understand how a procedure such as that in the Kula ring where small to no personal addition can be seen can be viewed as of import. but the point that these people are willing to go on this tradition and carry out a potentially unsafe journey to run into with their exchange spouses implies that to these people it is viewed as holding an up most importance. We must be careful non to try to enforce out ain cultural values upon this society when seeking to derive an penetration into their universe.

Redistribution. unlike reciprocality. contains constructs of unit value and economic addition. The societal administration required in order to implement this system implies a priestly system of power. A cardinal entity will roll up in resources as a signifier of tribute/tax and from this frequently offer protection and redistribution of trade goods as it sees fit. Through this method the handiness of any specific point is closely controlled by cardinal swayers. giving them power over the multitudes.

This system besides implies disposal. as gathered resources would necessitate entering. Evidence of this signifier of exchange/trade can be seen normally within the archeological record. notably at Knossos in the signifier of Linear B tablets. which have been interpreted as shop records. demoing all gathered resources. The big magazines and pithoi at Knossos supports this grounds. to connote that redistribution was being utilised in this country.

Down the line exchange implies the engagement of many colonies. of which few are in close contact with the resources beginning. These which are near to the beginning of the resources are able to roll up it and in bend exchange it with those who can non for something which they are unable to harvest/collect. These people with in the supple zone will evidently treat a larger proportion of the resource than that of the contact zones this signifier of exchange is easy recognised through the usage of fall-off analysis. with which 1 could bring forth an expediential curve. be this strictly exponential connoting several small town colonies or multi-modal implying several big colonies merchandising which in bend trade with the smaller surrounding colonies.

Of these three signifiers of exchange merely reciprocality genuinely has its footing in societal deductions and growing. holding no direct economic facet to the system. The instance presented by the Dani is far easier for people of the West to understand. as the conspicuous ingestion. as discussed by Veblen ( Theory of the Leisure Class. 1899 ) . whereby people through activities in life purpose for societal position due to an deep-rooted human quality spurting from less civilized times. For illustration Veblen claimed the intent of a adult male being married was to demo his success. as in past times adult females were used as trophies he wrote that this was still the implicit in instance. Harmonizing to Veblen many facets of our society merely profit it as a whole as a side-effect to the chief purpose of conspicuous pleasance. this pleasance category is an extension of ancient male monarchs of heads. who were supra many undertakings which are still thought of as below many ( such as humble labor ) .

There are many unfavorable judgments of Veblens work. nicknaming it a mere angle on civilization and observing its deficiency of citing. The chief point. nevertheless. is Veblen himself. much of him other work is written as a sarcasm upon modem civilization. doing usage of irony and temper to do a point and excaudate it. nevertheless. this is done in such a manner that it makes for much trouble distinguishing between when he is being serious and when seeking to be humourous. This in itself could potentially destruct any credibleness held by his work Theories of adult male & A ; civilization despite his purpose of a serious analysis of modern society. Despite these possible unfavorable judgments. nevertheless. Veblen does lift a just point. whither in earnestness or in jest. much of what he states can be seen in mundane life within our civilization. and many of these thoughts explained by the chase of societal advantage of pleasance.

The Dani usage a signifier of reciprocality for personal addition of increased societal standing. the thought being that through big conspicuous shows of stuff wealth their importance within the society will be shown and hence acknowledged. This is an illustration of positive reciprocality. where the giving of gifts holding a positive consequence is reciprocated by an action of equal or higher positive consequence to the person.

Marshall Sahlins ( On the Sociology of Primitive Exchange. 1974 ) creates sub-divisions in the thought of reciprocality hinging upon the motivations and expected return from any gift giving action. These were in the signifier of generalised ( frequently between close families ; no clear outlook of return. at least non in the close hereafter ) . balanced ( deny that return is required or that a debt is being formed. but outlook of reciprocation in the short or average term ) and negative ( frequently manipulating of the system. having something for nil. banging. higgling ) . These all incorporate clear societal and economic benefits to all involved ( bar the giver in negative ) . but the societal facet is more outstanding in generalised and balanced. due to the possible hold implementing drawn-out contact. than in negative.

Both generalised and balanced reciprocality require a grade of drawn-out contact. non merely to enable a return gesture at a ulterior day of the month. but besides to enable to necessitate trust facet to let for such a system to work efficaciously. This thought of drawn-out contact can organize societal links and even friendly relationships. thereby increasing the societal benefit of this action. Many societies use this thought of a delayed return in this manner. for illustration if a saloon landlord was to let for a check system in their saloon so they are likely to pull regular clients whom will go familiar with the location and staff and the staff with them. instead than sing different saloons and hence ne’er making any links or grade of acquaintance. Of class. through the encouragement of regular clients the landlord is besides potentially making an economic addition as people who are in familiar environments are more likely to experience at easiness and so potentially spend more. It is at a hazard. nevertheless. as there is ever the opportunity of people mistreating a check system doing for a system of negative reciprocality taking topographic point.

The action of gift-exchange is of import in many societies for many grounds. whether this be in hope of economic. societal or priestly additions becomes irrelevant as whatever the motivation the same basic advantages occur. Social alteration can happen for many grounds ; there are 5 chief theoretical accounts of societal alteration ( Trigger. 1968 ) any one of these ( saloon inevitable fluctuation ) could be brought about through gift exchange. as an off-shoot if nil more. Diffusion is the most obvious campaigner for the obvious exchange of thoughts. where an thought of invention of course spreads outwards from its beginning to nearby communities or trough such interactions as trade or warfare.

As Veblen ( Theory of the Leisure Class. 1899 ) points out many of the evident benefits of societal actions may be mere side-effects. in no manner connected to the original purpose or motivations. Such as the illustration of athletics. where although it may be apparently advantageous to the community in that it encourages physical fittingness this is a mere outgrowth of the fact of it being a conspicuous show of leisure.

So far I have to a great extent concentrated upon the transition of material goods ; nevertheless. the exchange of thoughts and other more abstract points is every bit of import in the development and growing of civilizations every bit good as hammering societal links and duties. Dalton ( 1969 ) indicated that exchange in pre-literal societies can take to distinct signifiers. that of reenforcing societal coherence and that of societal addition through the competitory show of wealth and position. The Kula ring is a good illustration of the first of these. while the Dani being an illustration of the latter.

There are many and varied signifiers of gift exchange. runing from though of ritual beginning to those of friendly relationship or cultural endurance. Although many of these show no obvious advantage to the person or even to the society as a whole the fact that the actions continue implies a grade of importance. From such an illustration as that of the Kula ring where points with no unit value are continuously circulated by persons to their exchange spouses over potentially unsafe Waterss. the importance of this societal action can be inferred. Through this thought of societal duties being created everyone benefits. but this benefit may non happen for several old ages after the exchange is made. the object ( shall necklaces and armbands ) could potentially go around many times before any indicant of societal addition can be evidently noted.

The fact that this action is so long lived. nevertheless. indicates rather strongly how it is ingrained into the community and as such is of high cultural importance. This can be said for many civilizations where gift exchange is practiced. no affair for foreign some of these systems may look to our civilization we must retrieve that these are people of a different society with different cultural values to ourselves.

In decision gift exchange in many societies throughout the universe and throughout clip is or has been an of import societal action. making long last societal bonds and duties every bit good as leting people to increase their societal position. non burying those systems which allow for economic additions.


Hatch E ( erectile dysfunction ) Theories of adult male & A ; civilization 1973 New York Columbia university pressMalinowski B Argonauts of the Western Pacific 1984 ( reissue ) Illinois Waveland PressRaheja G The Poison in the Gift 1988 Chicago University Of Chicago PressVeblen T Theory of the Leisure Class 1967 Penguin

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