Marcel Mauss wrote in 1924 that he had found in the motifs of the "archaic" gift exchange of pre-modern societies "one of the rocks on which our societies rest" (Mauss, 1990, p.19). Gift practices persist in modern societies without receiving sufficient attention from contemporary social theoretical thinking. Therefore, this paper links ethnological gift theory to issues of coexistence, economic regulation, and the design of welfare state programs. It explores where gift systems may be a better choice over market systems and where more space should be left within welfare state regimes for gift interactions. Gift practices establish forms of communication, create spaces for negotiation, and instill trust-building interactions and social relations. Accordingly, it is also essential in modern societies to preserve spaces for these practices and to strengthen them vis-à-vis the dominant regulatory principles of market and state.
Frick, Marc (2021), Gesellschaftliche Asymmetrien, Prosozialität und ein drittes Prinzip - Perspektiven auf moderne Gesellschaften im Anschluss an Marcel Mauss' Essay Die Gabe, Zeitschrift für Gemeinwirtschaft und Gemeinwohl 44 (2), 183-199.