Re: Re[2]: The Worker / Employer Relationship

Sarah Marr (
Sat, 02 Nov 1996 10:41:19 +0000

At 15:03 01/11/96 -0800, Eric Watt Forste wrote:
>Banjo wrote:
>> The implied ideology behind a "WE ARE ALL SELF-EMPLOYED" meme, is
>> that the natural metaphor for human relationships is commerce.
>> Im not that alienated from the human race.
>Perhaps commerce is the natural metaphor for relationships with
>human beings from outside one's immediate local culture. Considering
>the unsavory nature of most of the metaphors that many people in
>the world still resort to for their exorelationships, perhaps
>propagating the "commerce is natural" meme would be a big step

Possibly, but the meme is certainly not a new one. See Marcel Mauss's 'The
Gift' (written early this century) which deals with concepts of exchange
between individuals and cultures as a fundamental of all human activity,
whilst delineating 'commodity' (i.e. the subject of a trade) and 'gift'
(i.e. well, a gift, although reciprocity is a common feature of gift giving:
an interesting fact in itself).

Subsequent writers have interpreted Mauss's work in a variety of ways. I was
at a seminar by Maurice Bloch a couple of weeks ago where he was dicsussing
his new paper, which reconstructs Mauss's concepts of exchange. Instead of
seeing the fundamental feature as an exchange of physical items, Bloch sees
it as the exchange of the symbolic interpretations which occur during
discourse between individuals: a sort of semantic/semiotic and, quite
possibly, memetic approach to the interaction.

(As an aside: The whole thing seems to me to be moving towards a description
of social relations as performance, rather than static forms and functions.
This seems valid, especially when one integrates this line of thought with
current thoughts on sexuality and gender as performance.)


Sarah Kathryn Marr