Creating a Gift-Theory Narrative for the Euro-Crisis

  • Abstract:

    Practically everything that is written today in the field of European Studies is related in some way to the so-called ‘Euro-crisis’. This crisis is generally seen as an economic and financial phenomenon, in which the main actors are governments, banks and financial institutions. However, there is also another perspective one can take regarding the Euro-crisis. In this perspective, it simply does not suffice to look at money flows and debts, but it instead necessary to look towards the more underlying causes of the crisis. As the description of this conference states, the world has been taken over by the ‘capitalist logic’. I believe that what Alain Caillé has called the ‘imperialism’ of utilitarian theory in the social sciences today is a development closely related to this, together with the relativist view that values should not be an integral part of an economic system. Many of the often divisive narratives that are visible throughout Europe clearly reflect this utilitarian perspective, focusing on costs and benefits and on payers and receivers. In my paper I am arguing that this focus is not only detrimental to European solidarity and to finding a sustainable solution to this crisis, but also that it is one of the underlying causes of the crisis through depleting social solidarity, the feeling of community and the place of values in our economy. This will be primarily based on Marcel Mauss’ essay ‘The Gift’, using his arguments against utilitarianism and relativism and his arguments for re-introducing values into our economic system as a basis for proposing a new approach to the current crisis as well as an alternative to the strictly utilitarian capitalist logic which governs our economic thinking today. This conference, which wants to question and reflect upon the social order and social practices, would be the perfect opportunity for me to present this paper.