Redrafting Chapter 7 today, which gives me a legitimate excuse to spend all day with Mauss in the company of Sahlins, Gregory and Munn talking story about the local Yolŋu theory of value and social exchange.
This is the chapter where I draw together all the previous chapters and consider the local body of knowledge associated with emotion and morality as a theory of value and social exchange in its own right. There are some really interesting points of similarity with Sahlins’ continuum of reciprocity and also with the notion or model of Gift Exchange. However, what I find even more interesting are the unexpected points of difference and or divergence.
When all the cows have come home to roost – the thing that the Yolŋu case does, above all else, is encourage us to ask the very same questions that Mauss sought to ask – or sought us to ask – in his odd little book The Gift.
Above all else I think Mauss wanted us to consider what type of social relationships we are producing in contemporary, Western, industrialised society – what kind of social person and what kind of social experience – and to hold up to this the level-measure of social solidarity (as per his uncle Durkheim) and ask – in comparison to other societies elsewhere – what we can do and change to create a more level socio-economic plane. Phewph, that metaphor was wearing thin. No, but seriously. I do. I think so.