chapter  13
The long term and the short term of domestic consumption
Pages 17

Ever since Mauss’s classic essay, The Gift (1990), anthropologists have debated the issue of how to understand the way persons relate socially through the mediation of things. Much of this debate has centred on processes of exchange. There is a vast literature on this topic, much of it associated with the ideas of Lévi-Strauss. It was Lévi-Strauss who developed a specific interpretation of Mauss’s insights based on objective or structural models of exchange relations. An important shift in theoretical perspective resulted from Bourdieu’s critique of Lévi-Strauss’s ‘objectivism’: what Bourdieu summed up as a move ‘from the mechanics of the model to the dialectic of strategies’ (Lévi-Strauss 1969; cf. Bourdieu 1977:3-9; Sahlins 1974, chapter 4).