Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is Holiday Giving An Obligation?

Date:
December 16, 2008
Source:
University of Montreal
Summary:
A University of Montreal researcher has studied exchange rituals and comments on three obligations that structure any society: giving, receiving and reciprocating.

Why do we suddenly become generous during the holidays? Why do gifts often bear greater symbolic than economic value? Why do we anonymously give to strangers?

"Because giving back is a societal norm," says Marcel Fournier, a sociology professor at the Universitι de Montrιal. "Human beings are social beings and no society can survive without mechanisms of solidarity and reciprocity. Giving becomes an obligation."

Fournier is a specialist in the works of anthropologist Marcel Mauss who studied tribal exchange rituals in the early 20th century. Mauss identified three obligations that structure any society: giving, receiving and reciprocating.

"In modern societies, this is manifested in a State's wealth redistribution policies," says Fournier. "But these obligations also exist on an individual level, for instance, when we give to charities. It is a way to give back what we have received and contribute to the sharing of wealth."

In this exchange mechanism, a receiver obviously benefits while a giver gains from social prestige. "In certain traditional societies, rituals lead to an escalation in giving until one of the parties can not give any more. The one who gave most benefits from higher social prestige," says Fournier.

Modern Christmas gift-giving has its share of reciprocity mechanisms. "We always feel obliged to someone who gives us a present," says Fournier. "Although there is no reciprocity of gifts given by parents to young children, young ones learn very early to exchange and give back, whether it be cards or school drawings. And children give back what they received from their parents throughout life by eventually taking care of their parents when they get older."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Montreal. "Is Holiday Giving An Obligation?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081216131108.htm>.
University of Montreal. (2008, December 16). Is Holiday Giving An Obligation?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081216131108.htm
University of Montreal. "Is Holiday Giving An Obligation?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081216131108.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

AP (July 24, 2014) — The U.S. Mint has re-designed the John F. Kennedy half dollar coin to better match the former president's likeness. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

AP (July 22, 2014) — Authorities say a 241-year-old church on the National Register of Historic Places has been ravaged by fire in Maryland. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins