Cause and Effect

Marilyn Strathern

in The Gender of the Gift

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 1988 | ISBN: 9780520064232
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520910713 | DOI:
Cause and Effect

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This chapter describes how enchainment works to create individuals as agents and relations as the cause of events. A cause exists as a single reference point for the agent, in the same way as the effect of a relationship exists as a single outcome. The distinction between “person” and “agent” is introduced. The mother's social identity causes things in her care to grow. Then, the chapter explains the reasons why gender constitutes an oscillation or alternation between same-sex and cross-sex states. Gender provides the aesthetic convention through which forms are seen to appear. The gender of the activity depends on the way social relations are construed and their cause and effect sequencing. It is the aesthetic of gender which reveals to the observer the Melanesian gift in its cultural form: the anticipated outcome.

Keywords: cause; agents; social relations; effect; social identity; gender; same-sex; cross-sex; Melanesian gift

Chapter.  15680 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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