To Give Something
The Gift by Marcel Mauss is a comparative study of the widespread custom of gift exchange and the first understanding of its function in the articulation of the social order. Mauss is telling us, whatever we may have otherwise gained by the substitution of a rational economic system; for a system in which exchange of goods, is not a mechanical but a moral transaction, and will ultimately bring about and maintain human, personal relationships between individuals and groups.
Ferdinand Tonnies first published Community and Civil Society in 1887. He draws a distinction between Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (society). He studies relationships built from “positive mutual affirmations” which require “a balance between unity and diversity.”
He identifies basic features of a community by defining it as a living organism of people sharing a real organic life. Members of a community endure life together and share duties, memories, possessions and pleasure in reciprocal relationships. Relationships which are based on “direct personal interactions,” and tend to evoke a sense of togetherness, connectedness, trust, equal partnership, intimacy, familiarity, collectivity, support, belonging, understanding, growing accustomed to one another, actively contributing to mutual products, and recognizing each other’s efforts.
Zuverschenken translated into English means ‘to give something’. For this Intervention, a Zuverschenken Box was created which contained items for anyone in the community to take. Additionally, anyone in the community can contribute to it as well. A Zuverschenken Box was placed in various locations around the Berlin burroughs of Neukölln, Templhof and Schöneberg. Community interactions with the box were monitored. The box contained various items for sharing. Some people took items from the box, and other contributed demonstrating the features of community.