Gifts have been given and received in all eras and societies;
gifts are part of a universal human exchange. The importance of
creating and sustaining social bonds with the help of gifts is
widely acknowledged by social scientists, not only from
anthropological but also from economic, sociological, and political
science perspectives. Contemporary anti-corruption campaigns,
however, have led gifts to be viewed with ever-increasing
suspicion, because it is feared that the social bonds created by
gift giving may contaminate professional decision-making.
Suspicious Gifts investigates the sensitive issue of gift
exchanges and how they become an object of contention. Malin
akerstrom considers the moral dilemmas presented by bribes and gift
giving as experienced by Swedish aid workers and professionals
working in the public sector, business, and adoption agencies. She
also deals with professionals' interaction with foreign officials
or contractors. Often a gift is just that, although sometimes the
gift giving may be seen by others as a bribe.
akerstrom highlights the tensions between strict regulations
designed to prevent corruption with the human affection for the
institution of gift giving. She argues that bribes and gifts are
important social phenomena because they are windows into classic
sociological and anthropological research issues concerning
interaction, social control, exchange, and rituals. This unique
analysis will be of keen interest to all sociologists, public
officials, and professionals.
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