Mauss International

N°1 | “Opening Gift”

Digital Journal


Available on Cairn.


For four decades now, the MAUSS (Mouvement anti-utilitariste en sciences sociales) has been at the heart of the debates in social sciences in France and in French-speaking countries. While this landmass of works has found resonance and relays in Latin countries such as Italy as well as across South America, it has barely percolated across the language and cultural barrier into English – and therefore international – scholarship. For those of us who do, within the MAUSS, publish in English, how often have we been obliged to disappoint interest in this perspective because of the unfortunate unavailability of core MAUSS texts? This is the aim of the MAUSS International journal: To bring MAUSS-branded scholarship to a truly international audience and thereby partake more forcefully in the important debates in social sciences today.

Greeted early on by scholars such as Mary Douglas, Albert O. Hirschman, Marshall Sahlins, and Annette Weiner, the MAUSS was founded in 1981 by Alain Caillé and collaborators to resist the growing encroachment of neo-classical economics and other utilitarian approaches in the social sciences. It is interesting how what is often called “French theory” continues to be at the heart of social sciences and philosophy today in English language scholarship. Yet what is intriguing from a French perspective is how this felicitous reception has excluded the critiques and debates that have occurred over the last decades within French scholarship, creating what are sometimes serious problems of interpretation and application of these theories. This continued reliance on heavyweights such as Foucault, Derrida, and Bourdieu is a sign that novel theoretical insights have failed (at least to some extent) to impose themselves within English language scholarship in the last decades. It also gives the impression that French language scholarship has dried up since these heydays and that nothing of similar or significant value has emerged since. This is not true.

The globalization of academia, meanwhile, has brought a diversity of national and regional traditions in contact with each other and has promoted certain issues as common concerns. This process is accelerated by the enmeshing of social realities as a result of these same globalizing trends. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, the world today is inextricably woven into a whole, to the extent that a pangolin or a bat in a market in inland China (or some other cause) has the potential to initiate a snowball effect that can reach remote areas of Africa or South America in a matter of weeks. In other words, many of the pressing issues of the day are shared ones, and we are better off if we address them from a plurality of communicating standpoints rather than in isolation.

The MAUSS International wants to act as a crucible for such transnational communicative processes and act as a cultural and intellectual broker for anti-utilitarian perspectives on both sides of the linguistic divide in order to better address today’s important issues.


Table of Contents – Mauss international Digital Journal, n°1

I – Presentation of this issues’ contributions. Moving Beyond: Mission Statement of the MAUSS International
II – Opening Gifts

“The New MAUSSqueteers”
      David Graeber

“Are you Ready to Extract Yourself from the Economy?”
      Bruno Latour

“The Dismal Science”
      Marshall Sahlins

“Our Gift Paradigm”
      Mary Douglas

III – Lineages of the Gift

“Preface to the Chinese Translation of Marcel Mauss’ The Gift”
      Alain Caillé

“Dialogical Bridges and Anti-Utilitarian Alliances”
      Ilana F. Silber

“Giving Care”
      Elena Pulcini

“Heidegger and the Gift of Being: Denken is Danken”
      Stephen Fuchs

IV – Of MAUSSes, RATs and CATs

“What’s wrong with the RAT’S? Interest, Rationality and Culture in American Sociology”
      C. Calhoun & L. Wacquant

“Anti-Utilitarian Theory From Durkheim to Parsons and Cultural Sociology”
      Jeffrey Alexander

“The Bird in Hand: Rational Choice – The Default Mode of Social Theorizing”
      Peter Wagner

“The Structure of Social Facts: Self, Objects and Action as Products of Reciprocity and Cooperation in Constitutive Practices”
      Anne Rawls

“The Gift of Laughter”
      David Le Breton

V – Another Social Science is Possible

“For another world history of sociology”
      Stéphane Dufoix

“The Fate of Institutions in the Social Sciences”
      Christian Laval

“Connecting Sociology to Moral Philosophy in the Post-Secularity Framework”
      Sari Hanafi

VI – Our Debts

“Marcel Hénaff, philosopher and anthropologist”
      Francesco Fistetti

“Marcel Hénaff and the Heterogeneity of Gift Practices”
      Olli Pyythinen

“Note from the Underground”
      Fyodor Dostoïevski

VII – Public Sociology à la française

“For a Radical Moderationism and a Maussian Ethic of Discussion”
      Alain Caillé

Informations complémentaires