The Gift – Marcel Mauss and international aid

Robert Kowalski
2011 Journal of comparative social welfare  
Mauss' Gift is a valuable although neglected lens for examining international aid. Having delineated the often misunderstood characteristics of the Gift, the article re-examines development assistance. Whereas the market and welfare state are compatible with the modernity project, the Gift is argued to be incompatible with them whilst still pervasive in human affairs. The article finds that donors downplay the Gift system and yet are dependent upon relationships that only the system of the Gift
more » ... system of the Gift can provide; they push modernity's market exchange where the Gift is the cultural norm; and they offer aid to promote autonomy whilst buying influence for themselves. The conclusion offers donors some possible responses including the separation of relationship management, humanitarian aid and development investment; providing for reciprocity; providing voice; and tapping into the potential of the Potlatch.
doi:10.1080/17486831.2011.595069 fatcat:f3am7qlrmfbaxc2jfjjlhbtsri