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Nevertheless, one of the means by which anthropology can draw meaningful inference based upon the similarities that exist between otherwise different and diverse groups. For instance, anthropology has long been focused upon social customs relating to marriage and the means by which individuals pledged themselves to another, or to a specific religious union, throughout much of their lives. Within the modern world, this construct is no as marriage. However, marriage is not the only shared anthropological similarity that exists throughout almost all cultures. Indeed, there are many cultures that have been studied throughout the course anthropological research that do not indicate such a union to have existed. As such, using marriage, or a similar construct, to draw inference upon all people and to measure cultures and other differentials based upon it is an inherent flaw. Within such a dynamic, the analyst can come to appreciate the importance that gift giving, both as a norm and has a behavioral complement of culture and society, has come to be regarded as a fundamental least common denominator that exists between peoples. Whereas differentials with respect to gift giving have been denoted by a litany of different anthropologists, the similarity and practice and form that exists within almost each and every culture or group that has thus far been analyzed is one of the reasons why this particular practice is of such profound importance towards understanding human society and the means by which evolutionary culture has shaped the globe.
One of the most famous anthropologists to approach the issue of gift giving is that of James Laidlaw (Whitehouse & Laidlaw, 2007). The underlying purpose for this particular scholar being referenced within the beginning of this study is contingent upon the way in which he sought to define the four basic criteria that gifts represent; seemingly regardless of the culture in which
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It is fair to say that Margaret Mead is one of the most influential cultural anthropologists of the century gone by. Although some of her inferences have been proven to be flawed, she is a pioneer in the field who opened new vistas within the field of anthropology.
However, other anthropologists and social scientists dispute this fact and argue that before the emergence of barter economy, a gift economy existed (Carrier, 1995; Hart, 2005; Yan, 1996). A gift economy is whereby valuable goods and services are given without any agreement for future return but they instill in someone an obligation to reciprocate.
Gift Exchange in Anthropology. For a long time, the subject of gift exchange in anthropology has been an area of interest for anthropologists while it has also influenced the imagination of others. In essence, the act of giving gifts is a universal behaviour in which the interpretation of this has not been as satisfying as argued by scientists and those interested in anthropology.
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According to the research, it can, therefore, be said that Japanese show respect and a willingness to develop and maintain friendships through the exchange of gifts. According to Alston and Takei, offering gifts is one way to indicate a wish to develop a relationship in a culture that has difficulty in speaking forthrightly.
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