This book focuses on the contribution of Marcel Mauss (1872-1950) to social theory and a theory of cooperation. It shows that Mauss’s essay "The Gift" (1925) can be seen as a classic of a pragmatist, interactionist and anti-utilitarian sociology. It critiques the dichotomy of self-interest and normatively orientated action that forms the basis of sociology. This conceptual dichotomization has caused forms of social interaction (that cannot be localized either on the side of self-interest or on that of morality) to be overlooked or taken little notice of. The book argues that it is the logic of the gift and its reciprocity that accompany and structure all forms of interaction, from the social micro to the macro-level. It demonstrates that in modern societies agonistic and non-agonistic gifts form their own orders of interaction.

This book uniquely establishes the paradigm of the gift as the basis for a theory of interaction. It will be of great interest to researchers and postgraduates in social theory, cultural theory, political sociology and global cooperation, anthropology, philosophy and politics.

part I|51 pages

Marcel Mauss and the foundations of a theory of gift-giving

chapter 1|12 pages

A dichotomy in action theory

chapter 3|5 pages

Mauss's gift

chapter 4|23 pages

A conflict of interpretations

Rereading ‘The Gift’

part II|38 pages

Homo donator

part III|51 pages

Locating the gift in modern society

chapter 7|3 pages

The orders of the gift

Ordinary and extraordinary gifts

chapter 8|6 pages

Constituting the ‘game’ of gifts

chapter 9|6 pages

What motivates giving?

chapter 11|5 pages


Where's the gift?

chapter 12|8 pages

Commodities, value and the gift

Marx, Mauss and Polanyi

chapter 13|8 pages

Mauss and money

chapter 14|8 pages

The politics of sacrifice

part IV|32 pages


chapter 15|8 pages

Mauss's socio-economic vision then and now

Socialism, cooperatives and solidarity economy

chapter 16|7 pages

The gift in civil society and philanthropy

chapter 17|15 pages

Conviviality and convivialism

Practice and theory

chapter |2 pages