These days the market permeates our lives to such an extent that it is difficult to say where its realm begins and where it ends. To start with, the boundaries were fairly clear. It was through the community, not through the market, that people gained access to land and its bounty. Under normal circumstances, products "changed hands" not because one person had been conditioned to rely on others for the satisfaction of certain needs. The object (or an act of labor itself) was a custom-required gift whose prime purpose was to establish, or give expression to, the social relations that time and again reproduced the community as a distinct human group.