The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2000 - Social Science - 164 pages

A brilliant example of the comparative method, The Gift presents the first systematic study of the custom--widespread in primitive societies from ancient Rome to present-day Melanesia--of exchanging gifts. The gift is a perfect example of what Mauss calls a total social phenomenon, since it involves legal, economic, moral, religious, aesthetic, and other dimensions. He sees the gift exchange as related to individuals and groups as much as to the objects themselves, and his analysis calls into question the social conventions and economic systems that had been taken for granted for so many years. In a modern translation, introduced by distinguished anthropologist Mary Douglas, The Gift is essential reading for students of social anthropology and sociology.

 

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User Review  - dono421846 - LibraryThing

Accessible classic offering a theory as to how gifts serve to create social cohesion. "We may then consider that the spirit of gift-exchange is characteristic of societies which have passed the phase ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction 1
1
THE EXTENSION OF THIS SYSTEM
19
SURVIVALS OF THESE PRINCIPLES
47
CONCLUSION
65
NOTES
84
Chapter Two
97
Chapter Three
137
Chapter Four
154
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About the author (2000)

Marcel Mauss was a French sociologist and anthropologist. His work profoundly influenced the field of anthropology with respect to topics such as magic, sacrifice, and gift exchange in primitive cultures.

W. D. Halls was an author, educationist, and historian. He translated works by French authors, notably Marcel Mauss and ╔mile Durkheim, well into his retirement years.

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