How sharing is different from gift giving

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - 11:30

Washington: A new research article has shed light on how sharing is different from gift giving or exchanging marketplace commodities, and how cultural changes affect people’s tendency to share.

"Sharing is a fundamental consumer behaviour that we have either tended to overlook or to confuse with commodity exchange and gift giving," writes author Russell Belk, of York University, Toronto.

"Rather than absolute distinctions, I see these as categories that share fuzzy boundaries," he adds.

The author further points out: "Although both sharing and gift-giving have some elements that often (but not always) make them more communal, loving, and caring than marketplace exchange, sharing differs from gift-giving in that it is non-reciprocal. The infant who receives his or her mother`s nurturing care and sustenance does not incur a debt. Nor does the child who receives food, shelter, and love from parents receive an itemized bill upon leaving the nuclear family home."

Published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Belk’s article states that societal changes can affect the nature of sharing.

It says that examples of threats to sharing may be the individualization of family phones and meals, the decline of free public education, and the shrinking of public broadcasting.

On the other hand, adds the write-up, the Internet provides many healthy models for increased sharing.

Belk writes that forums, bulletin boards, blogs, social networking sites, wikis, open-source software development projects, and websites where people share expertise, advice, and opinions all contribute to a sharing community.

He has even provided some suggestions for promoting sharing in today`s world.

"I suggest that two keys to promoting contemporary sharing are an expanded sense of self that embraces other people more than other things and a greater sense of `sharing in,` where possessions are seen as ours rather than mine and yours," he concludes.

ANI



First Published: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - 11:30

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