The Gift

The Gift – Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies is the anthropological classic on economy, society and sociology by the french sociologist Marcel Mauss. The book investigates the gift as predecessor for modern societies economies by comparing habits from a range of traditional societies all over the world. Marcel Mauss describes how the people of Polynesia used gifts as a donation of authority and circulation of wealth and tributes. He compares the habits between eskimo tribes from North-East Siberia and West Alaska shows how gifts are the foundation for everything from marriage, war and peace and even religion in the form of sacrifices to the Gods. Marcel Mauss  concludes: “In any society it is in the nature of the gift in the end to being its own reward.”

From the book:

“I have never found a man so generous and hospitable that he would not receive a present, nor one so liberal with his money that he would dislike a reward if he could get one. Friends should rejoice each others’ hearts with gifts of weapons and raiment, that is clear from one’s own experience. That friendship lasts longest—if there is a chance of its being a success—in which friends both give and receive gifts. A man ought to be a friend to his friend and repay gift with gift. People should meet smiles with smiles and lies with treachery.”

Download The Gift here (136 pages/6MB):

 The Gift

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