The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World - Part I, Chapter 5: "The Gift Community" Summary & Analysis

Lewis Hyde
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Summary

In this chapter, Hyde turns to the specific characteristic of a community that is propelled and sustained through gift exchange. In terms of the individual, gift exchange is defined by motion and movement. Even more importantly, however, is the sort of equilibrium and cohesion engendered at the social level, what Hyde calls “a kind of anarchist stability” where property is circulated as a gift instead of being privatized (97). This stability is endangered any time gifts are converted into commodities because it fragments, and, in some cases, destroys the society in question.

In order to further illustrate these ideas, Hyde examines the circulation of knowledge within scholarly scientific communities where information is treated as a commodity. Scholarly work within certain scientific communities are called contributions. Hyde reads these contributions as function in a manner that is analogous to the gift...

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