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Crime, Law and Social Change

pp 1–16

First Online: 24 July 2017


This article discusses the role of gift relations in the Anthropocene. We reinterpret Mauss’s original concept of the gift to understand its application and transformation in a social context that increasingly sees human behavior as a resource for the realization of governmental and corporate objectives. Contemporary gift relations focus on reciprocity through personal data instead of physical artifacts, and on promoting control and consumerism instead of forging moral and personal obligations. In our analysis, we distinguish two important elements. First, gifts are used to elicit voluntary exposure of personal data by individuals. In exchange for personal data, people are granted material or immaterial rewards. Second, gift relations have a pervasive element of surveillance that aims to influence behavior through personalized feedback or mechanisms of punishment and reward for good behavior.

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Author: Marc Schuilenburg - Rik Peeters


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