File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 293

Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2008 17:51:04 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Gift Economy

   Seems to me that, in practice, a totally gift economy - like true 
communism - is most likely impossible. The theory is good, but leaves 
out several key components like greed, human nature, the need/desire to 
get ahead and/or improve your lot in life, fulfillment of true needs in 
a timely fashion, a geographically vast society, and so on.

   It should be noted that elements of a gift economy do exist in most 
societies. Anybody that is non-profit should know that. But as noted 
below, even the idea of a gift economy is a bit off the ideal as the 
expectation of reciprocal gifts, whether given to the giver or passed 
on to others, contradicts the idea that there is no explicit agreement 
for immediate or future exchange. You are expected to give as well as 
receive, it's just not set exactly what that giving is or to whom. 
Exceptions apply (like organ donation).

   For those interested, I've pasted below the first two paragraphs from 
the wikipedia entry, FWIW. For more info you can go to 
or, or google "gift economy" and you'll come up with 
lots of stuff.

   Most functional economies are based on some sort of supply and demand 
- the most basic element of economics. This even applies to art and 
puppet shows. If no one wants it, it won't be of much value (though 
that may change). If not much of it is available (limited supply - 
there is only one of you and/or your show) and lots of people want it 
(you/your show) it can command much money or goods in exchange. Other 
market influences (such as if they can afford it, even if they want it) 
also apply, but that is the root of the system most of us on this list 
work on.


A gift economy is a social theory[1] in which goods and services are 
given without any explicit agreement for immediate or future quid pro 
quo. Typically, a gift economy occurs in a culture or subculture that 
emphasizes social or intangible rewards for solidarity and generosity: 
karma, honor, loyalty or other forms of gratitude.[citation needed] In 
some cases, simultaneous or recurring giving serves to circulate and 
redistribute valuables within a community. This can be considered a 
form of reciprocal altruism. Sometimes there is an implicit expectation 
of the return of comparable goods or services, political support, or 
the gift being later passed on to a third party. However, in what is 
considered to be in the true spirit of gift economics, many times 
giving is done without any expectation of reciprocity.[citation needed]
The concept of a gift economy stands in contrast to a planned economy 
or a market or barter economy.[citation needed] In a planned economy, 
goods and services are distributed by explicit command and control 
rather than informal custom; in barter or market economies, an explicit 
quid pro quo =97 an exchange of money or some other commodity =97 is 
established before the transaction takes place. In practice, most human 
societies blend elements of all of these, in varying degrees.

On Nov 18, 2008, at 1:24 PM, Michael Moynihan wrote:

> The best understanding of a GIFT ECONOMY is to read Hyde's book.
> (I also read his TRICKSTER book and have done several plays based upon
> Trickster stories from around the world)
> There are many historical examples from around the world.
> But here in the USA (where I live) there are mini gift economies that
> we take for granted.
> Blood Banks
> Organ Donation
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