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What Can We Learn from Gift Economies?

Feb 02, 2010, 07:33 (2 Talkback[s])


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"Wikipedia gives a number of examples of historical gift economies. Within "modern" society, there are many places where the gift economy is operative today, even as the exchange economy (capitalism) goes on as well.

"One of the big areas where the gift economy operates is within the home. A mother generally takes care of her children, without any particular reward in return. Often a mother does quite a bit of the housework as well. Before the expansion of capitalism in recent years, women did even more than they did today--staying home to care for children, rather than sending them to day care, and often taking care of grandparents as well.

"Another place where we see the gift economy is sharing of information over the Internet, including sites like The Oil Drum (which is a volunteer organization) and Wikipedia, which is mostly volunteer. Peer to peer file sharing and free software are other examples of the gift economy. The giving of professional papers at conferences might also be considered part of the gift economy. Another form of gift giving is the huge remittances sent to home countries by those working in the US and Europe.

"Matriarchal societies are gift economies according to the Gift Economy Conference, most likely because with motherhood and household chores, women tend to think in terms of a gift economy. In comparison, Capitalism is sometimes thought of as patriarchal."

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