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The Plural Economy of Gifts and Markets

by Ioana Negru

Last tended to November 28, 2020

Negru, Ioana. "14 The plural economy of gifts and markets." Economic pluralism 122 (2009): 194.

Economists only pay attention to markets and completely ignore the role of gifts in our systems of value and exchange.

The modern economy is a ^^gift-market nexus^^ where the two are integrated. This approach is pluralistic, and no modern economists share this view, instead focusing on monolithic market-centred approaches.

We have to start looking at markets as institutions, not only exchange mechanisms. ^^Markets and gifts do not oppose each other^^.

"Norms and rules are examples of institutions with varying degrees of permanence." Gifts are no exception to this.

Gift giving in anthropological perspectives is usually framed with exchange theory as a means of establishing social bonds and building trust

"Mauss (1966) claims that gift-giving was used to open a social relationship, to accumulate prestige, and to overwhelm rivals"

"From this perspective, gift is a type of social exchange that is distinct from market exchanges since it is power and custom, rather than utility maximization, that is the driver in social relationships"

Bordieu added onto this theory pointing out that ^^gifts convert economic capital into social capital ^^- "Gift thus has both an economic and a broader social dimension to it."

Economists frame gift giving as some roundabout self interested move as strategic plays of utility maximisation and rationality. Which signals their addiction to the notion of [[Homo Economicus]] more then it speaks to the way our gift economies really work. Given that homo economicus is a culturally constructed idea of human nature within a particular historical context

The idea of "the duality of the gift" speaks to this balance of generosity and self-interest

examples from [[Open Source Software]] break a lot of these economic assumptions of self interested man. It fails to account for the power of identity, belonging, internal creative satisfaction, the larger "noosphere" of building a collective hive mind.

✱ Open source software is a Gift Economy

"Contemporary game theory has shown a wide range of circumstances in which competitive markets do not yield optimal allocations"

"Sellers may accept lower prices or buyers may agree to pay higher prices in order to maintain a relationship"

Good example of Bordieus notion of exchanging economic capital for social capital

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