Gifts and Exchange

Hirokazu Miyazaki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A gift contains within itself a part of its giver: 'to make a gift of something to someone is to make a present of some part of oneself'. This article traces the trajectories of debates in socio-cultural anthropology that have stemmed from Mauss' solution to the problem of reciprocity, with a view to stepping outside these trajectories. The first half of this article seeks to demonstrate that the succession of debates following Mauss' essay consists of repeated attempts to rework the relationship between Mauss' original problem and solution. This article draws upon the ideas of the French sociologist Marcel Mauss and his critique of Claude Levis Strauss. This article further traces Weiner's revision and renewal of Mauss' thesis of the inalienability of gifts which has had a significant impact on subsequent debates about gifts and exchange. A detailed analysis of aesthetic constraints related to gift and ideas of extension concludes this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743887
ISBN (Print)9780199218714
StatePublished - Sep 18 2012


  • Aesthetic constraints
  • Exchange
  • Gifts
  • Inalienability
  • Mauss
  • Socio-cultural anthropology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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