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Mark Osteen

Related: gift - altruism


Mark Osteen is an English language academic.

The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines (2002) - Mark Osteen (Editor)

  1. The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines (2002) - Mark Osteen (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    This is the first collection of interdisciplinary essays on the gift. Bringing together scholars from a variety of fields, including anthropology, literary criticism, economics, philosophy and classics, it provides paradigms and poses questions concerning the theory and practice of gift exchange. In a culture awash with the rhetoric of self-interest, understanding the gift is more essential than ever. The questions of the gift raised in this collection address essential issues in social life: How do non-commercial exchanges form and solidify communities? How do humans and objects interact outside of consumerism? What are the relationships between gifts and commodities? To what degree are artworks gifts? Is a truly free gift possible, or even desirable? In addressing these questions, contributors not only challenge the conventions of their fields, but also combine ideas and methods from both the social sciences and humanities to forge an innovative way of tackling this universal phenomenon. --amazon.com

    Ever since the publication of Marcel Mauss's landmark 1925 anthropological study-cum-historical romance Essai sur le don, scholars in a variety of disciplines have been fascinated with gift exchange. Yet despite Mauss's discovery that gifts are "total social phenomena" governed by particular norms and obligations (76), they have often been either explained away as disguised self-interest or sentimentalized as a remnant of a golden age of pure generosity. The Question of the Gift, an interdisciplinary collection of essays, poses new questions and offers new paradigms that transcend these trite polarities.

    According to Jacques T. Godbout, in the realm of the gift, "the implicit and the unsaid reign supreme" (4-5); these essays expose these implicit norms and unspoken principles. Such work is essential because, as Alan Schrift observes, the question of the gift "addresses fundamental issues of intersubjective interaction" (18). Explaining its motives and meanings is therefore necessary to a fully ethical conception of social life.

    Because the issues involved in the gift cut across traditional academic disciplines, it is particularly well suited for interdisciplinary inquiry that can both highlight the weaknesses and synthesize the strengths of economics, sociology, philosophy, literary criticism and theory. By bringing together first-class scholars from disparate fields, this collection offers a broad range of new research on a universal phenomenon that will interest a wide audience and stimulate further interdisciplinary work. Indeed, the collection is especially timely now that the recent publication of Natalie Zemon Davis's study of gifts in early modern France has rekindled scholarly interest in these questions. --http://www.cwru.edu/affil/sce/QG_volume.html [Mar 2006]

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