What was the last gift you gave someone? And have you ever thought why you enjoy making gifts? (if you do! I personally really like it; in fact I buy more things for other people than I do for myself).
It’ s not Christmas yet but while searching around I found this interesting article. It’s about gifts from the point of view of an economist and in my opinion it has been quite influenced by Marcel Mauss’ work. Since utility is associated to what people get in general, I would be really interested to find out what economists think about altruism – in fact I am going to make my research right after posting this! In the meanwhile, enjoy:
EDIT: Hmmmmmm…! 🙂 Here’s a nice idea for my final essay! Or maybe even for my thesis (no, I cannot be noted for my objectivity!)
One response to “Santanomics: the weird economics of giving”
Yes Mauss is fascinating and I’m still trying to figure out whether there is such a thing as a gift that doesn’t seek recompense….surely there are some I’d like to think. Have you ever wondered about the gift giving in makeover reality tv shows such as those home/garden renovation programs, in which the altruistic carpenter-landscaper team (carrying product placements) surprise some worthy person with the gift of a total makeover of their house and or garden – the latter has been completely neglected because of the altruistic efforts of the worthy person – raising neglected children, rescuing animals and so on. The networks get to display their benevolence. I do think it’s facinating that such programs are linked with a new business model in media – low cost productions that involve fewer paid actors and scripts, creating a spectacle of gift giving as a reward for community minded altruism – programs that are loaded with targeted advertising and product placement so that people who skip the ads still get the ads).
And then there’s the ‘gift’ economy of the media – free to air tv, which seeks recompense by way of creating audiences for advertising – and of course the Internet…which many publishers are still struggling to negotiate.