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A Spiritual Economy$
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Thomas R. Blanton

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300220407

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300220407.001.0001

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Classification and Social Relations: The Dark Side of the Gift

Classification and Social Relations: The Dark Side of the Gift

(p.61) Five Classification and Social Relations: The Dark Side of the Gift
A Spiritual Economy

Thomas R. Blanton, IV

Yale University Press

Although gift exchange is often vaunted for its socially integrative functions, it is also associated with negative effects: obligation, coercion, indebtedness, and the psychological and social oppression of the donee. Perhaps due to the refusal of an offer of hospitality in Corinth, Paul becomes embroiled in hostile relations that indicate the “dark side of the gift.” Paul can classify the same exchange differently at different times, and, in attempts to activate social responses of friendship or hostility, he can label his own labor a “gift” while labeling the same type of labor performed by others a “commodity.” The chapter shows that since the classification of exchange carries significant implications for social interaction, attempts to classify a given exchange cannot be disassociated from attempts to orchestrate sociopolitical relations and, in fact, always serve sociopolitical functions.

Keywords:   dark side of the gift, gift and commodity, principles of classification, friendship, hostility

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