7762 - Marcel Mauss today

The paper demonstrates that the main objective of Mauss´s Essai sur le don is to present redistribution of material and immaterial signs and some type of alienability in communication as universal features of social organization. As a socialist, Mauss was especially concerned with the future of the State in relation to the growth of market relations. Taking departure from Mauss´s thesis, it will also be argued that there are historic as well as logic continuities between the figures of "gift" and "commodity". These figures are in hierarchical relation, in the sense that their opposition always presupposes the encompassment of one for the other. A contrast will also be made between Mauss and Marx. Both have, each at his fashion, attempted to reveal the specificity of capitalist exchange. Marx’s unveiling of the ideological cover of the inequality of this exchange complements Mauss’ proposal of private and State welfare as form of non capitalist retributions to be included in capitalist environments. These are reciprocal presentations linked to the sacrificial aspect of labor; therefore, if Marx describes labor as commodity, Mauss shows it is also a gift, even in a capitalist environment. T here is an implicit theory of value in Mauss´s consideration of gifts as inalienable which should be considered in relation to Marx´s critic of alienation of the worker in the capitalist mode of production. If Marx is radically against alienation he found in capitalism, for Mauss communication invariably implies some degree of both inalienability and alienability of the self, persons and groups.

Palavras-chaves: Mauss, Marx, State, communication, alienation

Autores: Lanna, Marcos (Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Austria / Österreich)


University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575