Sociology and psychology essays marcel mauss pdf
The Gift is in a direct line of descent from Durkheim’s The Division of Labor in Society, published over three decades before. If Durkheim referred somewhat vaguely to the non-contractual element in the contract, this essay is focused explicitly on that issue. Mauss summarily eliminates the two utilitarian ideologies that purport to account for the evolution of contracts: “natural economy,” Smith’s idea that individual barter was aboriginal; and the notion that primitive communities were altruistic, giving way eventually to our own regrettably selfish, but more efficient individualism. Against the contemporary move to replace markets with communist states, he insists that the complex interplay between individual freedom and social obligation is synonymous with the human condition and that markets and money are universal, if not in their current impersonal form. In this way he fleshes out his uncle’s social agenda, but also questions the accuracy of his model of mechanical solidarity for stateless societies.
Sociology and psychology essays marcel mauss gift
Sigaud makes no connection between Mauss’s essay and his political commitments. The trajectory she describes is a purely academic one. As a result, when trying to account for the remarkable discontinuity between what Mauss wrote and what he is now thought to have written, she relies for explanation on the cult of personality and the power of gossip in small-scale oral communities such as academic anthropology. In fact, Chris Gregory launched the modern trend with his book, Gifts and Commodities, even though, as he states in Savage Money,
Mauss's most influential work is his (1923–24; English translation: , 1954), a comparative essay on -giving and in "" societies. On the basis of empirical examples from a wide range of societies, Mauss describes the obligations attendent on gift-giving: the obligation to give gifts (by giving, one shows oneself as generous, and thus as deserving of respect), the obligation to receive them (by receiving the gift, one shows respect to the giver, and concommittantly proves one's own generocity), and the obligation to return the gift (thus demonstrating that one's honor is - at least - equivalent to that of the original giver). Gift-giving is thus steeped in , and by giving, receiving and returning gifts, a moral bond between the persons exchanging gifts. At the same time, Mauss emphasizes the competitive and strategic aspect of gift-giving: by giving more than one's competitors, one lays claim to greater respect than them, and gift-giving contests (such as the famous North-West Coast Native American ), are thus common in the ethnographic record. In this work, Mauss thus lays the foundation for a theoretical understanding of the nature of .