Importance of exchange transactions Essay

The gift is chiefly about the relationships being transacted, about the people involved in these minutess instead than the ceremonial giving and having of things ( Carrier 1995: 19 ) . Write an essay measuring the function of alienable and unalienable goods in underlining the importance of exchange minutess.

In order for us to take an in depth expression at the thought of gift giving and the relationships involved in such a ceremonial dealing we must first expression at the people that are involved in the dealing. Not merely must we look that the people but we must besides concentrate on the association between people and the existent object itself. Carrier himself states in his essay ; “ Gifts and Commodities ” that “ Clearly there is much more in our relationship to objects than sheer public-service corporation ” ( Carrier, 1995. 1 ) , and therefore turn outing to us that there we have a much more intimate relationship with stuff objects than we foremost imagined. This bond is deep plenty that we even need material objects to specify who we are sometimes, for illustration if a hood rocker claims to be a hood rocker he must dress harmonizing to the societal image of a hood rocker and from there we can presume that individual ‘s individuality and personality as a hood rocker. Carrier says himself that “ The corollary is that objects signify position individuality and so represent a claim to status-group rank on the portion of those who have them ” ( Carrier, 1995. 2 ) . Another major construct that is involved with both the relationship between worlds and material objects and with the ceremonial act of gift giving is reciprocality. It shows us and defines to us the strength of the bond between people and material objects.

It goes without a uncertainty that worlds have a natural association with objects as we all have a stuff demand and it is through these objects that we can command these demands. Carrier provinces in his essay ; “ Gifts and Commodities ” that “ Worlds do hold stuff demands, and objects can fulfill them ” ( Carrier, 1995. 1 ) . As I stated earlier we need material objects for a assortment of grounds, one of which is for them help specify and demo our society both our individuality and our personality. It is for this ground that we have such a deep connexion with material objects, because every bit long as society continues to be so will the demand for material objects. However this essay, nor is Carrier ‘s essay, about the connexion between people, individuality and material objects but alternatively, as Carrier puts it, we are traveling to “ look into the ways that objects are implicated in personal relationships, instead than seeing them in mass constructions of significance and individuality ” ( Carrier, 1995. 10 ) . In order to acquire a full apprehension of such a subject we must foremost take a expression at what is known as reciprocality, reciprocality is a term used to depict the exchange of goods and labor. It was separated into a few separate footings know as, generalised reciprocality, balanced or Symmetrical reciprocality and negative reciprocality. The term which most applies to the ceremonial of gift giving is generalized reciprocality as it is described as the event of giving or sharing. It is defined as when a certain single portions his expertness with another person in his society who is in demand of his goods or labor without anticipating anything in return. However this does non specify the event as “ mutual ” as the giver expects nil in return, but this interaction is so “ mutual ” as the person who gives his goods is overcome by such satisfaction in giving his services, and the fact that it creates a societal bond between the giver and the receiving system and that is what he attains in return for his goods or services. In modern twenty-four hours society this seems to happen chiefly between parents and kids or within married twosomes as at that place seems to be a certain sum of trust and societal interaction involved between the people within the event. It is through these minutess with other people that besides help specify our individuality, non merely that stuff object itself. Carrier himself says that ; “ Indeed, in some ways dealing creates the very individualities of those involved in it. ” ( Carrier. 1995. 35 ) These, mutual events help specify our relationships with other people, as I said before through these events we can derive societal bonds with people but we besides need certain sum of societal interaction with that same individual before we can affect ourselves in such a dealing.

What is besides interesting about these minutess, and so really much nowadays in the generalised reciprocality that I defined earlier, is that we are so a selfish race. We merely give gifts so that we may have something in return. In the context of generalised reciprocality we merely give our goods and labors so that it can be returned in the feeling of gratitude and the formation of a societal bond. Marcel Mauss provinces in his essay ; “ The Gift ” that gifts are ne’er “ free ” and as a selfish race we will ever anticipate something in return as we merely give so that we may have. Mauss ‘ likely most celebrated inquiry raised by his essay “ The Gift ” was ; “ What power resides in the object given that causes its receiver to pay it back? “ , ( Mauss, 1990. 3 ) an the reply seems to be simple plenty. The Power lies non with the object itself but instead with the mute contract that it creates with the people involved in the dealing. The giver does non merely give away some material abject but besides gives away a portion of themselves with that object ; this creates a strong bond between the giver and the point he gave off. Mauss himself says that “ the objects are ne’er wholly separated from the work forces who exchange them ” ( Mauss, 1990. 31 ) . Because of this bond between the gift and the giver the receiving system has a certain duty to return the favor to the giver in the signifier of a gift of the same, if non better value. Although the receiving system is non under any jurisprudence to return in such a mode and it is entirely up to him if he returns the favor, the failure to reciprocate frequently consequences in the loss of societal position and trust amongst his equals. Mauss describes an even greater effect to the failure of the act of reciprocation, in Polynesia that failure to stay by the duties of reciprocality consequences in the loss of “ mana ” which is a individual ‘s religious energy and beginning of power and wealth. Mauss breaks down the ceremonial event of gift giving into three separate phases and duties ; giving, having and reciprocating. Giving is the measure that is needed to keep a societal relationship, receiving is the act of admiting and accepting that societal relationship and failure to accept consequences in the rejection of that relationship, and last is reciprocating as it shows 1s honors and societal position within the society. We can see this throughout the descriptive anthropology of the Kula ring and the Kula shells, whereby giving the shells away is merely every bit of import as having them for they are non meant to maintain everlastingly but alternatively passed on.

Is stating this nevertheless we must besides look at the construct of “ inalienability ” in mention to endow exchange as it plays a major portion in both Mauss ‘ essay and the ceremonial act of gift-giving. An unalienable object is something that can non be exchanged from one person to another. Alternatively they have to be sold and the rights of ownership are so passed to the new proprietor, the object has hence become an “ anomic ” point to the original proprietor as they no longer have the rights to that object nevertheless the construct of “ free ” gifts is a somewhat different one. Alternatively of the proprietor selling the object and going wholly alienated from the point given, the gift alternatively renders the point under “ loan ” . Therefore the original proprietor remains the rightful proprietor and this rightful ownership has the power to oblige the receiver to return the favor. Carrier points out the same construct in his essay where he says that if he buys a bottle of vino in s hop it is now his and can make what he wants with it, including pouring it down the drain, nevertheless if his female parent buys him a bottle of vino it is her pick for him and becomes a item of her fondness towards him and in bend this makes it a portion of her individuality, he hence could non merely throw it out like his ain bottle of vino. This individuality that we find in the object is besides what Mauss calls the “ hau ” . The hau is what is known as the “ spirit of the gift ” , it lives inside the gift and has a deep connexion with its original proprietor, and hence the object is invariably seeking to return to its rightful proprietor, increasing the duty of the receiving system to return the gesture of gift-giving. Because the gift is an “ unalienable ” object and the rights of ownership still belong to the gift giver, the favor must be returned by the receiving system as the act of gift giving creates a contract between the people involved and that in bend creates a kind of gift giving societal debt that must be repaid by the receiving system. So so harmonizing to Mauss, if the “ free ” gift is non returned purchase the receiving system the act of gift giving hence becomes a contradiction as if the gift is non returned it can non make societal ties because the demands of the duties are non met. Mauss therefore believes that societal solidarity is achieved through the construct of gift giving and the societal dealingss that it creates.

Carrier besides raises the issues of disaffection within his ain essay as he tackles the constructs of the ego and disaffection. He shows us how some trade goods and objects can non be alienated from our egos as they are excessively closely linked with our individualities. For illustration Carrier supposes to us that we can non set our right to vote up for sale, as that is our constitutional right as a citizen to put to death, and Carrier besides says ; “ Equally, one can non sell 1s determination on how to vote. ” ( Carrier, 1995. 29 ) What he means here is that we can non be told how or who to vote for in an election by person else in exchange for money. However Carrier does province that “ One can. . . give that determination as a gift ” ( Carrier, 1995. 29 ) . Carrier goes on to state us that one can non sell oneself as that would intend that we are seting ourselves up for bondage, which realistically one can non make as one can non estrange themselves from oneself, but one can sell one ‘s labour ability. And once more the same can be said for selling oneself sexually, as that is considered harlotry and punishable by the jurisprudence, but one can give themselves sexually as a gift. What Carrier is seeking to state is that one can non be alienated from all facets and the individuality of their life, but through the act of gift giving, we can impart our penetrations, experiences and goods to our equals and those who need them in our society. But Carrier goes on to speak about these unalienable qualities and how they relate us to one another and non to our objects. Carrier says ; “ My female parent and I are linked by what our society sees as unalienable properties. ” ( Carrier, 1995. 31 ) . What he is stating is that the blood bond between himself and his female parent defines them and imposes on each of the duty to interact and transact in certain ways and under certain fortunes. This so in bend can associate to the interactions between a gift giving relationship. “ Therefore, gift transactors are societal individuals defined in important ways by their unalienable places in a construction of personal societal dealingss that encompasses them. ” ( Carrier, 1995. 31 ) . And therefore demoing us how gift minutess help specify who we are.

In Carriers essay ; “ Gifts and Commodities ” he states that ; in many societies dominated by gift exchange that construction of affinity provides the footing of people ‘s individualities and their dealingss with each other, and therefore their duties to transact with each other. ” What Carrier is seeking to state her is that instead than our objects wholly specifying who we are, the act of gift giving from individual to individual may be more of import to our individualities than the existent object we are giving. The relationship between the giver and the receiving system is of extreme importance to their societal relationship, the point in this context seems of small importance, for it is through these Acts of the Apostless of gift giving and the duties that ensue the actions that help us construct our societal dealingss. This is helped along by the inclusion of anomic objects and unalienable objects within a gift dealing, for both come with certain duties where we sell and item so it becomes alienable or the object is wholly unalienable to us, both are connected to the relationship between the giver and the receiving system, and constructing a societal relationship between the two. It was Mauss who claims that it is these gift giving ceremonials that build the societal solidarity of a civilization.


  • Carrier, James
  • “ Gifts and Commodities ; Exchange and Western Capitalism ” , 1995. pp 1-37
  • Douglas, Mary
  • “ Undersatnding the Enterprise Culture ” , Edinburgh University Press
  • Mauss, Marcel
  • “ The Gift ” , 1990. Pp 10-59
  • Sherry, John F. Jnr
  • “ Gift Giving in Anthropological Perspective ” , The University of Chicago Press, 1983. Pp 157-168