The Gift Economy

What Would Google Do?” keeps referring to “the gift economy,” where participants give away things of value to the shared benefit of the community. Think wikipedia, where people contribute their knowledge free of charge for the benefit of all.

It sounds like something I want to know more about. Naturally, I went to wikipedia:

…a gift economy (or gift culture) is a society where valuable goods and services are regularly given without any explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards (i.e. there is no visible quid pro quo). Ideally, simultaneous or recurring giving serves to circulate and redistribute valuables within the community. The organization of a gift economy stands in contrast to a barter economy or a market economy. Informal custom governs exchanges, rather than an explicit exchange of goods or services for money or some other commodity… Some consider the gifts to be a form of reciprocal altruism.

It’s generosity, but with the expectation that what goes around, comes around. It’s an economy — a system — not merely a virtue. I like this idea because it makes community life more fun.

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3 Responses to The Gift Economy

  1. Pat says:

    I liked this…it made me feel good. (smile); And then there are those gifts, given without a any thought of getting back……. no expectation what-so-ever…not even out of caring concern for another’s welfare; just given to surprise and delight. The source, in fact, may always remain a mystery. What are these gifts to the community called….other than crazy (smile)?

  2. John Steinsvold says:

    An Alternative to Capitalism?

    The following link, takes you to a “utopian” article, entitled “Home of the Brave?” which I wrote and appeared in the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

    John Steinsvold

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