What can the exchange of gifts tell us about a society?
Essay from the year 2002 in the subject Archaeology, grade: 2i (B), Oxford University (New College), 4 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Exhange is the chief means by which things move from one person to another and it is an important way in which people create and maintain social hierarchy. It is a richly symbolic activity as all exchanges have got a social meaning which can be analysed and therefore gift exchange can give us insights into the social structures of societies. Exchange is also universal: it is unknown for people to produce and then consume everything directly, without any intervening exchanges at all and this means that gift exchange systems are an important aspect of life which can be studied in every society and different kinds of exchange systems can be compared. An example of a society in which the exchange of gifts can tells something about their social structure are the Trobrianders.
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