Reciprocity In Mauss's The Gift

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The Secret Santa clip from The Office details a gift giving experience in which the employees engage in a holiday game that involves a group of people being assigned a person to whom they anonymous give a gift. Through an analysis of this clip, we can better explain the quotation above in the context of Mauss’s The Gift, as the characters are part of a gift cycle. Thus, these characters are bound by the commitments the gift phenomena, which connect to dominant societal institutions, entail. In The Gift, Mauss says that solidarity is achieved by means of gift exchange and reciprocity. Mauss provides differentiation between the variations of reciprocity, defining generalized reciprocity as an exchange between closely related people without expectation of return. This occurs, for example, between parent and child. Balanced or symmetrical…show more content…
This is perhaps better exemplified by the Secret Santa clip, as in order to participate in the game, one must provide their assigned person with a gift, preferably of equal or greater value. When Michael gives Ryan an iPod, Ryan reminds Michael that there was a $20 limit, while Michael’s gift was $400. Michael claims that the monetary value of the gift is insignificant – what matters is that Christmas is fun. However, when Michael is given a homemade oven mitt, he angrily leaves the room, yelling that his worth is greater than that of an oven mitt and implying that he deserves a better gift because he gave Ryan an iPod. Despite claiming that the value of the gift is unimportant, Michael was quite obviously expecting a gift of equal or greater value, as he was upset when he purchased an iPod but was given what he deemed a gift with little value. Similarly, Mauss describes the potlatch,

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