Gifts and Favors


Focusing on general patterns revealed in everyday experiences, the paper examines reciprocal exchange in Poland, and considers the continuities and changes in the uses of gifts, favors, and recommendations as state socialism is replaced by market capitalism. I show how, on one hand, particularistic relationships have utilitarian and moral value, and provide individuals with some degree of control over their lives. On the other hand, continued reliance on connections helps to increase material and social inequalities in Poland, especially when used in conjunction with market reforms. The paper emphasizes the centrality of social networks in market economies generally while also highlighting the particular historic forces that shape reciprocal exchange networks in contemporary Poland.

How to Cite

Galbraith, M. H., (2003) “Gifts and Favors”, Ethnologia Europaea 33(1), p.73-94. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.



Marysia H. Galbraith (University of Alabama)



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