Equivalent Reciprocity

К оглавлению
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 
68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 
85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 

It is also possible that exchange relationships imply different but complementary

power resources to women and men.What women and men

give is different but yet equivalent. This would be a case of equivalent

reciprocity. Weiner (1976) gives an example of such an interpretation of

gift exchange by women in a non-Western society. She shows that the

Trobriand women were especially active as givers of gifts on the occasion

of rituals concerning the cycle of life and death.Women play an outstanding

role in the regeneration of dala, the transmission of the identity of the

nameless and anonymous ancestors who are assumed to have “the same

blood” and come from the same place and the same country (Weiner

1976: 253). Women envelop their child in at owel, bind it to astick, and

put the stick in the soil where they are laboring. They hope that the ancestors’

spirit will thus enter into the child through the soil and the stick.

In the experience of the Trobriand inhabitants the essence of persons

and their spirit is transmitted by women. According to Weiner, women

therefore dispose of an important form of power and control, namely

the control over the ahistoric, cosmic, timeless phenomena of life and

death.Men derive their power and control fromanother domain, that of

material possessions and wealth, concrete gifts like yams, armshells, and

necklaces – the famous Kula gifts described byMalinowski – to concrete

persons. This domain is, much more than that of women, situated in

historical time and space. The gifts men give to each other derive their

value, among others, from the fact that they inherited them from famous

and respected persons. By giving precious goods to each other, men create

relationships between specific individuals over different generations.

Weiner concludes thatwomen aswell as men dispose of important power

resources, but each does so in a different domain.

Are these ideas relevant to our own culture? Of course, our market

economy has replaced the former gift economy to a certain extent (not

completely, though, as the gift economy still exists alongside the market

economy). And, of course, our culture radically differs from the one of

the Trobriand inhabitants. Nevertheless, some parallels with Weiner’s

findings may be drawn. The market is the domain where men still are in

possession of most power resources: they are playing the most active role

in the exchange of money and commodities. The informal exchange of

gifts outside the market is mainly the domain of women. Arguing from

the model of symmetrical reciprocity, men and women derive equivalent

power from their respective exchange transactions. By means of their

giving gifts, women function as the guardians of social relationships.

Women and their gifts are, so to speak, the “greasing oil” of our society,

without which the human machinery would certainly break down. In

contrast, men are in large part responsible for economic transactions.

The big money is mainly circulating through their hands, and also the

“greasing money” – monetary bribery – is still predominantly a male

affair. The economic domain of commodity production and exchange

offers many possibilities to acquire power and prestige. Analogously to

Weiner’s reasoning, however,womenwould have another but equally important

domain of exchange transactions fromwhich to derive power: interpersonal

interaction, the social machinerywhere everything has to run

smoothly aswell. The exchange of economically not “useful” but symbolically

rich and socially indispensable gifts by women would, then, equal

the economically useful exchange of commodities performed mainly by

men. In the latter type of exchange, the social and symbolic meaning is

subordinate to the economic one.