The Imperfect Promise of The Gift

Abstract: This essay analyzes the moral economy of the gift in the seminal and eponymous work by Marcel Mauss. I present Mauss’s argument and discuss the gift as a moral, or psychosocial, achievement. I conclude on the promises and pitfalls of the gift as an anchor to social solidarity.

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About Marion Fourcade

Marion Fourcade is professor of sociology at UC Berkeley and visiting professor of sociology at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) for 2019–2020. She is the author of Economists and Societies: Discipline and Profession in the United States, Britain and France, 1890s to 1990s (Princeton, 2009). Her current work focuses on the politics of wine classification and taste in France and the United States and on new forms of stratification, morality, and profit in the digital economy. A book from this project, The Ordinal Society (with Kieran Healy), is under contract with Harvard University Press.