Self-Interest

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A fifth class of motives is based on implicit or explicit self-interest, either

taking the shape of promoting one’s own interests or by disadvantaging

or harming the recipient. A range of possibilities is present here: gifts that

serve to flatter, propitiate, corrupt, blackmail, or bribe. The entire world

of sponsoring but also segments of political and professional life feed on

this idea. Many gifts in the sphere of public life hardly cover up the selfinterest

that motivated them – for instance, the pharmaceutical industry

offering golf weekends to physicians and their partners, concluded by

a light scientific program on the advantages of certain pharmaceutical

products. Particularly, the larger business gifts are close to a bribe.Money

gifts may be used for all kinds of dubitable aims: as hush or redemption

money, or as a means to obtain certain societal or political gains. Although

gift giving has earlier been defined as a voluntary and spontaneous act,

some gifts are not allowed to be given freely, as is shown by the fact that

gifts to political parties have been forbidden by the lawin many countries.

Our respondents sometimes make a sharp calculus about the debt

balance between give and take: does the other person not profit toomuch

frommy gift giving? Does what I receive from others measure up to what

I gavemyself ? Personal costs and gains are the main motives here. Giving,

in this case, is based on a kind of market model, in which personal costs

and benefits form the dominant considerations. One male respondent

who felt that his neighbors had asked him too often to performall kinds of

small jobs for them, said: “At one moment I felt that I was taken advantage

of; well, then it is the end, for me. It’s different when it is coming from

both sides, but here, there is only one party who does all the giving.Well,

then Iamfinishedwith it.”And another one says: “It is nice playing openhanded

Gerald always, but there has to be some return at some time.” Or:

“Others help me too, yes. Otherwise I would not do it, I think. I am not

going to make a fool of myself.”