Reciprocity in Silicon Valley: The prominent role of gift giving among tech entrepreneurs in the Bay Area

BY VIVIENNE SCHRÖDER During my three months of fieldwork in the Bay Area on the work/private life situation of early-stage tech startup founders, I learned the real importance of Marcel Mauss’ essay The Gift (1966). In this essay, Mauss stressed the important role of gift giving in the archaic societies he studied. He argued that through obligations of giving, receiving, and returning gifts, societies create bonds, and in this way stability and cohesion in a society. Yet, more than 50 years after The Gift was published, I saw Mauss’s insights reflected among tech entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. During the …

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