Essay Gift Exchange and Reciprocity

Gift Exchange and Reciprocity

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Anthropology Essays
A look at the importance of gift exchange in various societies.

Reciprocity in societies, especially in tribal societies, holds a lot of significance. This paper focuses on the importance of mutual exchange. The author investigates this phenomenon in different societies and the significance it holds.
“Gift giving is a classic example of reciprocity: gifts can cement relationships, confer prestige and obligate subordinates. Marcel Mauss called gift exchange a total social phenomenon because of its many dimensions: economic, legal, religious, spiritual and moral. Gifts are also a means of sustaining long distance relationships or connections and may be benevolent, aggressive or manipulative: they can unite, antagonize or subjugate. Whether we recognize and admit it or not, there are always strings attached to gift giving which affect the way people and groups relate to each other.”

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