The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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Gift Economy

August 17th, 2006 · No Comments · intentional communities

Principles of Gift Economy
1. Gifts are given without anticipation of reward
2. Gifts are given without assessment of need
3. Gifts must not be kept / Gifts must be perishable
4. Gifts must not be sold
5. Those who do not give gifts are shunned from the community
6. The gift not yet repaid debases the receiver
7. The gift circle must be larger than a household, yet smaller than a large town

Commodity vs. Gift
1. Most commodities can be gifts, but few gifts can become commodities
2. Gift exchange engenders a social bond, whereas commodity exchange does not
3. Commodities in a gift economy are discourage social bonds
4. Limited gifts in a commodity economy encourages social bonds
5. Commodity exchange is possible in situations where a gift economy is impossible
6. Commodity economy is tidy. Gift economy is complex beyond comprehension

Questions to Consider
1. How is a gift economy played out in non-profit organizations, like churches and fraternities?
2. Where are gift economies simulated through commodity exchange to obtain loyalty?
3. How important is a gift economy to utopian communities?
4. Was fascism an attempt to bring corporate elements, like the State, into gift economies?
5. What are the outer bounds of gift economies? How are problems created there resolved?


nb: This post is apropos of nothing. Wikibrowsing led me to it and it made a connection to the non-profit work I’ve done.

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