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The return of the gift society: Traditional relations of exchange and trust in contemporary technological society

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(Thesis) M.A.
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This research proceeds from the premise that reflecting on the structures of traditional societies can aid us in understanding of contemporary technological society. The goal is to determine whether traditional gifting relations are present in online-networked communities. A further objective is to investigate modes of gifting in order to offer insight into the procedures and infrastructures of Open Source communities and Social Networks. Utilizing Social Network theory as an overarching framework, this work identifies and extracts a pattern of gifting relations from diverse discourses on the gift. This is followed by an exploration of contemporary technological developments including Open Source, and Free Software movements, Web 2.0, and social networks, in order to ascertain if the elements of this pattern appear. This examination is supported by a case study of the Burning Man community. The research concludes with implications of the significance of a gift-based approach to networked society.
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