Mauss is my boyfriend: an excerpt from ‘The Gift’

‘On the other hand, it is the individual that the State and the groups within the State want to look after. Society wants to discover the social ‘cell’. It seeks the individual in a curious fram of mind in which the sentiments of its own laws are mingled with other, purer sentiments: charity, social service and solidarity. The theme of the gift, of freedom and obligation in the gift, of generosity and self-interest in giving, reappear in our own society like the resurrection of a dominant motif long forgotten.

But a mere statement of what is taking place is not enough. We should deduce from it some course of action or moral precept. It is not sufficient to say that law is in the process of shedding abstraction – the distinction between real and personal law – or that it is adding some fresh rules to the ill-made legislation on sale and payment for services. We want to show also that the transformation is a good one’ (Mauss 1954, p. 66).

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