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Gift Giving in Hong Kong and the Continuum of Social Ties


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  • Joy, Annamma
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    This article explores gift-giving practices using data collected through interviews in Hong Kong. I argue that Chinese culture promotes the familial over the private self and that the attainment of family-oriented goals represents an important measure of self-realization and self-fulfillment. Although each individual also has a private or inner self (chi), it is also subject to the collective will. This idea is in keeping with Confucian ideals that encourage the individual to focus on developing internal moral constraints and conquering selfishness in the pursuit of social propriety. Furthermore, the boundaries of the familial self are permeable and may include others, such as important romantic partners and, occasionally, close friends who become "like family." In family and like-family contexts, reciprocity is discouraged, and there is no need to build relationships through gift giving. Our research also suggests, however, that there are various gradations of intimacy in gift relationships against the backdrop of important cultural rules such as reciprocity, sentiment, and face. Using the categories provided by our participants, the gift continuum includes "close friends," "good friends," "just friends"/"hi-bye friends," and the "romantic other." Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.

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    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 28 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 2 (September)
    Pages: 239-56

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:v:28:y:2001:i:2:p:239-56

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    Cited by:
    1. Nguyen, Hieu P. & Munch, James M., 2011. "Romantic gift giving as chore or pleasure: The effects of attachment orientations on gift giving perceptions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 113-118, February.
    2. Chau-kiu Cheung & Raymond Chan, 2010. "Social Capital as Exchange: Its Contribution to Morale," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 96(2), pages 205-227, April.
    3. D'Hont, Laura, 2011. "Le rôle des relations amicales dans les formes coopératives : Le cas des projets d’entrepreneuriat," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/8678, Paris Dauphine University.
    4. Bian, Qin & Forsythe, Sandra, 2012. "Purchase intention for luxury brands: A cross cultural comparison," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(10), pages 1443-1451.
    5. Dameron, Stéphanie & Josserand, Emmanuel, 2006. "Opening the black box of group dynamics : the participation/reification duality as generative mechanism," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/3995, Paris Dauphine University.
    6. Ludwig Bstieler & Martin Hemmert, 2010. "Trust formation in Korean new product alliances: How important are pre-existing social ties?," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 299-319, June.
    7. Valérie Guillard & Céline Del Bucchia, 2012. ""How About Giving My Things Away Over The Internet? " When Internet Makes It Easier To Give Things Away," Post-Print hal-00909262, HAL.
    8. David Ackerman & Jing Hu & Liyuan Wei, 2009. "Confucius, Cars, and Big Government: Impact of Government Involvement in Business on Consumer Perceptions Under Confucianism," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 88(3), pages 473-482, October.
    9. Joo, Young-Hyuck & Kim, Yunsik & Yang, Suk-Joon, 2011. "Valuing customers for social network services," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(11), pages 1239-1244.


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