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Chapter 6 of The Gift is about market economies and gift economies as "gendered". I'm mostly going to gloss over that, as it's a complex set of ideas that seems risky to summarize. But toward the end (p. 106) he talks about a continuum between market-based work - "banking, law, management, sales" - and gift labor - "social work, nursing, the creation and care of culture, the ministry".

No field is entirely one or the other, of course, but there are leanings: "social work and soul work... cannot be undertaken on a pure cost-benefit basis because their products are not commodities, not things we easily price or willingly alienate." And so, he says, that is one reason these labors receive less pay than more adversarial, market-based work.
But, you ask, if we really values these gift labors, couldn't we pay them well? Couldn't we pay social workers as we pay doctors, pay poets as we do bankers, pay the cellist in the orchestra as we pay the advertising executive in the box seat? Yes, we could. We could - we should - reward gift labors where we value them. My point here is simply that where we do so we shall have to recognize that the pay they receive has not been "made" the way fortunes are made in the market, that it is a gift bestowed by the group. The costs and benefits of tasks whose procedures are adversarial and whose ends are easily quantified can be expressed through a market system. The costs and rewards of gift labors cannot. The cleric's larder will always be filled with gifts; artists will never "make" money.
Something in here feels very right to me (it lies behind the file sharing post I made over on the Tin Cat blog) but it's somehow hard. I can't figure out what I want to say about it.

Date: 2009-04-20 09:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jfb.livejournal.com
I think maybe it's that in a society which values money and the making of it as much as ours, it seems too harsh to say that "artists will never 'make' money", no matter how much you explain what you mean by it.

September 2015


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