The Two-Edged Sword of Solidarity

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That solidarity and exclusion can go together is also illustrated in the

empirical results of our study about gift giving in theNetherlands(Komter

and Schuyt 1993). In addition to investigating the effects on gift giving of

class, gender, and age (see Chapter 2), we studied specific categories of

respondents in more detail – retired people, housewives, students, and

employed and unemployed people (among whom several respondents

were living on disability pensions).

table 6.5. Gifts, Given or Received, according to Social Position, % (N)

Employed Unemployed Retired Housewife Student

To From To From To From To From To From

Presents 89 66 72 41 77 53 88 75 96 78

(270) (200) (21) (12) (46) (32) (73) (62) (22) (18)

Money 86 57 55 48 88 22 90 57 61 87

(261) (173) (16) (14) (53) (13) (75) (47) (14) (20)

Food 72 60 52 52 67 47 71 59 70 74

(218) (182) (15) (15) (40) (28) (59) (49) (16) (17)

Sta y 66 45 55 45 60 30 63 23 87 83

(200) (136) (16) (13) (36) (18) (52) (19) (20) (19)

Care/help 67 58 55 41 42 40 75 58 78 52

(176) (136) (16) (12) (25) (24) (62) (48) (18) (12)

(N) (303) (29) (60) (83) (23)

Note: N = 498. The deviation from N = 513 is due to missing participants.

Source: Komter and Schuyt (1993b).

An important precondition to participation in gift exchange is taking

part in social networks, circles of friends or family members who meet

each other on a more or less regular basis. Many gifts are given during

informal meetings between friends (sometimes colleagues) or while

having dinner or drinks together.We know by now thatmuch gift giving

takes place within still unsettled, yet important social relationships. Our

research results confirm this: students appear to be great givers. Other

very important occasions of gift giving are the many rituals still surviving

in our society. Highlights of ritual gift giving are, of course, Christmas,

Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, births, wedding ceremonies, jubilees, and

the like. Ritual gift giving seems to occur more often within relationships,

which have become more or less settled.Women presumably play

an important role in ritual giving. Indeed, confirming both Caplow’s and

Cheal’s studies on this point (Chapter 4), the housewives in our sample –

together with the students – prove to be the greatest givers, as is shown

in Table 6.5.