The Gift: A Form of Cooperation

Claus Leggewie / Käte Hamburger Kolleg / KWI Essen

  • © Volker Wiciok
    (c) Volker Wiciok
  • © Volker Wiciok
    (c) Volker Wiciok

While it is common in Germany for people to insist on a separate bill after a joint meal, elsewhere it is common for one person to pay the entire bill. He can assume that at a different occasion or in a different combination he won’t have to pay, meaning that investment and return in the end ideally balance out.

An invitation to a meal is a widespread from of gift with which not only you give, but invest something and oblige the recipient to return the favor. At the same time, a joint meal provides something else, a sense of community, as if one partook of others with the food consumed.

Marcel Mauss described social cooperation like this in his oft-cited essay The Gift. For him, it is the core of a sociality beyond individual profit maximization, in which squander, waste, and reckless abandon play a role. The material exchange is the medium of symbolically creating and stabilizing social relations.

Today, the exchange of gifts has often been reduced to the economic exchange of goods. This conference of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg and Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut will seek to examine the potential of the gift today, especially in light of global cooperation in world society.

Host —
Käte Hamburger Kolleg Global Cooperation Research Duisburg, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen


— 23. September
Entrance free
  • Tue23Sep
    14.00 - 18.00
    The Gift: A Form of Cooperation on 23. September 2014 at 2.00 PM