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Sociology of Giving
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Sociology of Giving

First Edition


March 1999 | 176 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
We all give and receive gifts. But few of us reflect on the risks and uncertainties inherent to this form. For example, to give means to acquire power, to effect a symbolic exchange, to initiate ties and alliances, to convey social messages to others and to classify our own status. Gift-giving is also a device to register honour and shame, to show solidarity, to equalize and to create intimacy.

This fascinating volume looks at the ambivalence of gift-giving; contemporary gift-giving, its motives, occasions and its rules; examines `sacrifice', `food-sharing' and `gift-giving' as those basic institutions upon which symbolic orders of `traditional' society rely; and considers the historical invention of hospitality, paving the way to an analysis of the anthropology of giving. Berking explores the transition from traditional society to the market self-interest form, sketching a moral economy beyond the rationale of the market-place and a world caught in the grip of competitive possessive individualism.

 
PART ONE: THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF GIFT-GIVING
 
Motives
 
Occasions
 
Emotional Norms
 
PART TWO: TOWARDS AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF GIVING
 
The Gift
 
The Sacrifice
 
Distribution of the Sacrifice
 
Attributions
 
PART THREE: TRANSITIONS
 
Ideal Constructions
 
Beyond Necessity
 
PART FOUR: MORALITY AND SOCIETY
 
Individualization and the Common Welfare
 
The Solidarity of Individualism

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Helmuth Berking

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