Ming the Mechanic:
Gifting and Community

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Gifting and Community2003-05-29 23:31
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Yesterday I was watching GIFTING IT: A Burning Embrace of Gift Economy, which is a documentary about the gift economy in effect at BurningMan, which I mentioned here. Somebody said:
You could almost say that the definition of community is a place where there's gift giving.

The converse of that would be that if you want to destroy community, a good way of doing it is to turn all gift giving into commercial exchanges.
Right. I agree. It is like in a family. Wouldn't work if we had to account for and pay for each act. My baby daughter would have had no money to pay for her upbringing. Lots of little joyful or necessary acts would just have been so much harder if we had had to go out and get financing for them. Likewise in any community of people who aren't just family. What brought them together might well have been a commercial relationship. But what holds them together, and what makes the community useful is all the extra stuff they do together which they didn't necessarily have to do.

Economics is not so much about money as it is about making choices. In gift economies it is all about choices. Communities form when a bunch of people somehow choose to operate together. It is better the more informed their choices are. Taking away the ability to choose, or the ability to choose well, destroys community and is also bad economics.

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1 comment

14 Jun 2004 @ 08:50 by oasiian : Ideal Ethics
I, leading the COA, already had one of these points as one of my primary beliefs. except I took it a further step.
Rather than trading with money, it's gift for gift entirely. Advanced bartering.
'People working together towards the common goal' whatever that would be. for example, a handful of people making an aircraft. One would be engineer another the designer and another mechanic and so on and so forth. But, giving this to some other person or group, they might get back, say, a small house.

More on my profile.  

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2008-07-06 23:20: Laws of social networks
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2008-02-21 21:16: Open social networks
2007-11-08 01:49: The value of connections
2007-11-07 00:51: Diversity counterproductive to social capital?
2007-07-13 23:42: Plan vs Reality

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