Users' Patronage: The Return of the Gift in the 'Crowd Society'

Giancarlo F. Frosio
2015 Social Science Research Network  
In this work, I discuss the tension between the gift and market economies throughout the history of creativity. For millennia, the production of creative artifacts has lain at this intersection. From the time of Pindar and Simonides-and until Romanticism commenced a process leading to the complete commodification of creative artifacts-market exchange models ran parallel to gift exchange. From Roman amicitia to the medieval and Renaissance belief that scientia donum dei est, unde vendi non
more » ... , creativity has been repeatedly construed as a gift. Again, at the time of the British and French "battle of the booksellers," the rhetoric of the gift still resounded powerfully from the nebula of the past to shape the constitutional moment of copyright law. The return of gift exchange models has a credible source in the history of creativity. Today, after long unchallenged dominance of the market, gift economy is regaining momentum in the digital society. The anthropological and sociological studies of gift exchange, such as Marcel Mauss's The Gift, served to explain the phenomenon of open source software and hacker communities. Later, communities of social trust-such as Wikipedia, YouTube, and fan-fiction communities-spread virally online through gift exchange models. In peer-and user-generated production, community recognition supersedes economic incentives. User-based creativity thrives on the idea of "playful enjoyment," rather than economic incentives. Anthropologists placed societies on an economic evolutionary scale from gift to commodity exchange, in a continuum from the clan
doi:10.2139/ssrn.2659659 fatcat:ccq7yufidbdgven57au2hyrayq