Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Spring 2012
5.1 Making a Living, Part 2
Exchange between people of similar social standing who have close personal ties (through kinship,
How closely related are the exchanging parties? How quickly and unselfishly are gifts reciprocated?
French Sociologist, student of Emile Durkheim
The Gift (1925) – an important theoretical exploration of reciprocity and exchange.
Gift giving entails social and political obligations.
Gift object inescapably tied to the giver.
Giving creates a social bond between individuals and an obligation to reciprocate.
Giving something to another person without the expectation of an immediate return.
“Reciprocal” in the sense that giver feels satisfaction, and gift fosters social closeness.
Giving entails expectation that something of equal value will be returned (immediate or delayed).
“Barter” – attempt to get something of greater value than what you give.
May involve deceit, coercion, striking a “hard bargain.”
Crack in Spanish Harlem (Bourgois)
Cultural Reproduction Theory
Schools socialize minority children into dominant ideology (e.g., social norms, vernacular) of majority
(i.e., white America).
Resistance to assimilation leads to economic failure (poverty, crime, drug abuse).
Economic success contingent upon rejecting ethnic identity and cultural dignity.
The Logic of the Culture of Violence
Regular displays of violence (maintaining credibility, protecting market and assets).
Violence as “public relations, advertising, rapport building, human capital development.”
Ruthlessness = security.
Pursuing the American Dream
“Rugged individualists”, “private entrepreneurs” seeking a “piece of the pie.”
Underground economy as most available route to upward mobility.
Choosing dignity and autonomy over humiliation and dependence on others.