of The Gift Economy

Forgiving: A Feminist Criticism of Exchange
[Entire Book Online]

Homo Donans
[Entire Book Online]

Articles and Essays by Genevieve Vaughan

Athanor: Il Dono, the gift, a feminist analysis


Many Voices discuss The Gift Economy



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Copyright © 2006 by Genevieve Vaughan

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Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Part One Discovering the Gift Paradigm      (download PDF)

How I got started 11
The exchange paradigm 16
Subjectivities 20
Patriarchy 22
Hitting 24
Categorizing 25
Other points of view 28

Part Two The Gift in Communication      (download PDF)

Exploring gifts and signs 35
The market, the law, the commons 42
Academic disciplines 47
Mothering and the Gifts of Language 48
Aspects of the gift logic 54
Material Communication 57
Exchange relations 58
Psychological origins of exchange and patriarchy 59
Manhood script 61
Language as a gift economy 62
Women and Signs* 72
Gender and economics 72
The Paradigms 74
The "manhood script again" 83
Needs, expressed and unexpressed 85
Co-muni-cation 89
The verbal commons 93
Where do words and money come from? 97
The exchange metaform 101
The gift metaform 104

Part Three Verbal Gift Giving      (download PDF)

Tracking gifts and third party relations* 111
More about syntax 114
Conjunctions 118
Articles 120
Translating Language into Numbers: a conjecture 121
Things, words and value 124
Alignment 130

Part Four Epistemology and gender      (download PDF)

Definition, classification, the market 137
Definition, naming and exchange 142
Categorization: a mechanism of oppression 148
Value Commons 149
Epistemology and gender: Knowledge as gratitude 151
The denial of gratitude 154
The construction of common ground 156
Masculation and categorization 159
Masculation and exchange 161
Knowledge and gender 162
Reapplying the incarnated definition of exchange 164

Part Five Some Applications      (download PDF)

Going beyond the rights discourse 171
Equality and self-interest 173
Summing up 180
Other variations: 180
Essentialism 183
Recognition 184
Circulation of gifts 189
Nurturing: a process or a common quality? 192
Essential Services 200
Uniting the camps 202
Extending the gift 205
The Gift of Oil 208
The pumps that take the place of the heart 210

Part Six Transpositions      (download PDF)

Weighing the scales 217
Equivalence 217
The Peacock Weight 219
Perspective and the ego (1 and I) 226
The ego and the psychology of property 228
Form and Matter 234
Standards and definitions 239
Tracking and counting money 242
North-South masculation 247
Coins R US 249
Inner Eye point of view 250
May the scales drop from our eyes! 257
Weighing weighing 260

Part Seven First Essays:      (download PDF)

Communication and exchange(Semiotica1980)
I 266
II 273
III 276
IV 279
V 280
VI 285
VII 290
VIII 291
IX 293
Endnotes 298
Saussure And Vygotsky Via Marx(Ars Semeiotica IV: 1. 57-83, 1981)
I 300
II 311
Notes 329


T he subject matter of this book - at the intersection between feminism and linguistics, economics, semiotics, and sociology - is a fundamental part of our humanity that we have not seen before, or named as such. Not that people have not studied what they call 'gift exchange', but they have not given it that fundamental interdisciplinary place that should occupy. Indeed many have believed that unilateral gift giving does not exist. I consider it both fundamental and commonplace.

The gift has been obscured for many reasons, which we will be discussing. It is strange that anything this important could have been invisible, but perhaps this also gives a measure of the importance of revealing it, not only for academic investigation but for politics. Why are we motivated to harm and egocentrism and why is our compassion dwindling? The answer may be found in the struggle between the parasite and the host, the exchange paradigm and the gift paradigm.

Another way of saying this is that gift giving has been deprived of its meta level. That is why we do not name this important aspect of life.Unilateral gift giving is not the same as unconditional love or gift giving. There are conditions - such as the identification of a need. The other person should not be hostile - in fact the hostility may mean that there is a need - for independence perhaps? - that is greater, and is not being seen by the prospective giver.

The identification of needs and agency for their satisfaction creates meaning, in language and life.

I started working on the idea of communication as gift giving in the 70's and did not read any of the authors of the Mauss Revue until some time in the late 90's. I first read Lewis Hyde's book The Gift:Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property in 1981, I think. I am saying this to underline that my ideas have grown up independently and from a point of origin mainly outside of academia. I have also tried to practice them in feminist foundation activism for more than 20 years.

Click to read Part One: Discovering the Gift Paradigm
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