chapter  7
23 Pages

THE IDEOLOGY OF THE GIFT

In previous chapters I have described some of the ways that economic life has come to be distinct from social life. However, as I noted in Chapter 5, people construe these areas in ways that exaggerate the differences between economy and society, work and home. In this chapter I investigate one element of the cultural construction of social, as distinct from economic, relationships. This is the ideology of the gift. Although it reflects basic beliefs about gift relations, it does so in terms of presents, ceremonious and self-conscious gifts. The ideology of the gift expresses the cultural image of the perfect giving of the perfect present.