Philippe STEINER, GeWoP - n°6 - The Organizational Gift and Sociological Approaches to Exchange, , -0001

[en]This paper studies the specific form of gift-giving behavior in which an organization, or a set of organizations, intervenes between the donor and the donee. It is suggested that this should be called an organizational gift, or “organic gift”. Following Richard Titmuss’ insights, the first part considers what happens in the domain of biomedicine, examining here what is meant by a “gift” in the case of organ transplantation, in contrast to the Maussian conceptualization of gift-giving behavior. The second part elaborates this finding, and delineates the main characteristics of this modern form of gift, entailing the presence of organizations in the absence of which the donor and the donee could neither give nor receive. The final part broaden the perspective, including a review of Karl Polanyi’s conception of reciprocity as an integrative form of economic activity, providing a new way of mapping the forms of exchange which present themselves as alternatives to market exchange in our current market societies.

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