Marcel Mauss in Samoa: the holistic method in sociology and the Polynesian gift

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    Abstract

    This book attempts a reconsideration of the celebrated Maussian Essay "On the Gift": far from being a structuralist essay on universal "reciprocity" in all human cutures, as Levi-Strauss presented Mauss's work, the "Gift" has been an essay on the very specific gifts that carry sacred values throughout the whole society. This is the reason why Mauss has begun his famous Essay with the case of the Samoan society, where two types of gifts are exchanged, but, as he showed, only one of them is what he called a "total" prestation, in the sense that it represents the whole clan and not an individual. That "total" type of gift in Samoa is made of the so-called "fine mats". The second part of the book examines in great detail the ancient and contemporary modes of gift-giving in Samoa and shows how the circulation of the fine mats is indeed a "total" social system in Samoa. From there, a pan-Polynesian comparison of ceremonial gifts is attempted. Mauss's attention given to the "total" prestations in social systems was due to his sociological approach which was holistic and not structuralist.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationMarseille, France
    Publisherpacific-credo Publications
    Number of pages396
    ISBN (Print)9782953748536
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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