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ANTH 100

by: Viktoryia Zhuleva

ANTH 100 ANTH 10000

Viktoryia Zhuleva
GPA 3.0

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Lecture 03/07/2016. Social Exchange: Gift Commodity, and Transfer
Dr. Richard Blanton
Class Notes
Anthropology, Purdue
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Viktoryia Zhuleva on Monday March 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 10000 at Purdue University taught by Dr. Richard Blanton in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 110 views. For similar materials see Anthropology in Liberal Arts at Purdue University.


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Date Created: 03/07/16
03/07/2016 Lecture Social Exchange: Gift Commodity, and Transfer (The foundations of economic anthropology) Reciprocal Gift Exchange - Gift exchange enacts (materializes) a social relationship between persons or groups - A gift has a value: the act of gifting represents an “opportunity cost” to the fiver - Gifts may include items or financial or sentimental value, labor experience, expertise, time - Gift reciprocation signifies an enduring social relationship (choosing not to reciprocate signals the end of a relationship) - Usually, a recipient is not free to “alienate” the gift (alienation will signify the termination of the relationship) Balanced Reciprocal Gift Exchange  Here the actors strategize to make the value of the gifts exchanged roughly equal  Balanced exchange symbolizes the social equality of the participants (egalitarian relationship) Unbalanced Reciprocal Gift Exchange  Here, the strategic goal of the giver is to create and maintain an unequal social relationship with the gift receiver  The receiver, unable to reciprocate, becomes obligated to the giver and must recognize the giver’s social superiority o Examples: 1. The participants enter the exchange with different resource endowments (e.g. patron-client relationships, feudalism) 2. Participants attempt to outdo each other in competitive giving (e.g. New Guinea “big Man” pig distribution events) The Traditional Hindu Castle System is based on Unbalanced Reciprocal Exchange Brahmans provide ritual services to spiritually purify others (a high value service) Lower castes, in exchange. Provide surplus production (like food) and labor services (commonly available and of low value) Here social exchange perpetuates a system of social and economic inequality Commodity Exchange - Here the goal of social exchange is to obtain a needed good or service - The purpose is not to establish and maintain an enduring social relationship - Commodities are alienable - Exchange participants are concerned with the relative of goods and services (not with the relative values of persons) Commodity exchange I: Barrier - An exchange can take place if the exchanging parties agree between themselves on the comparative values of goods or services exchanged (ad hoc evaluation of value) - The is especially likely if goods are unique and this not suited to standardized pricing - Barter is found an all human societies Commodity Exchange II: Price-making Markets - Markets require channels of information flow so that exchange participants can gauge market variables influencing supply, demand, and price - In “traditional” or “peasant” markets, crowds of sellers and buyers and fairs (market day periodicity) Periodic markets from at least 5,000 YA but are found today in many developing areas and in developed economies, for example farmer’s markets Modern Markets  Over the last 5,000 years, social institutions and technologies provide more and better information concerning market conditions (e.g. print and electronic media to communicate information about market conditions) and continuous marketing (e.g. stores, online shops) Transfers (“altruistic gift”): A transfer refers to a gift given with no expectation of a return – hence exchanging has no immediate consequences (is not reciprocal exchange). Transfers: Salvation Religions - Good works, including anonymous charitable acts, are one path to salvation in the afterlife (therefore not reciprocal gift exchange) - These ideas were first formulated in: Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam


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