• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

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

Individualization and the Common Welfare
Individualization and the common welfare

Money and power are necessary as means, but they are not the proper measures of a good society


Nowadays, whoever enquires into the moral economy of modern society soon runs the risk either of being annexed to the long-serving choir of culture criticism, or of being labelled a cynic who makes a virtue out of necessity and a conquest of civilization out of the de-moralization of social semantics. Murderous xenophobic arsonists, a corruption-prone political personnel that daily presents an astonished public with the reprivatization of power opportunities in the form of a blithe maximization of self-interest, a watering down of normative obligations and institutional bonding, major tendencies toward social closure (Parkin 1983), social protectionism as a promising ...

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