Gift Economy

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Gift economies are spaces where exchange doesn’t happen on a direct basis of trading money for goods or goods for other goods. Rather, participants in a gift economy give freely and don’t track what their ‘owed’ by others. This creates a kind of “positive debt” where everyone in the space has benefited from others giving, and therefore wants to give themselves.

My experience in a gift economy

DIY shows tend to function on a gift economy basis. Rather than sell tickets or collect a cover charge at the door, many shows will simply pass a donation container around in between sets. The money is distributed amongst the bands based on who needs the money, usually for touring or other expenses. The only money the house collects is to cover things like earplugs to give out to people or fans to keep the space cool; the ‘owner’ of the venue doesn’t profit from hosting.


Blog post from Maggie Appleton where the ‘positive debt’ idea came from.

A great video from a de-growth activist & theorist briefly talking about gift economies.

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