Reciprocity Revisited: Give and Take in Dutch and Immigrant Families

Aafke Komter, Djamila Schans

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The idea that reciprocity is the basic principle underlying forms of social organization, among which the family, is as old as classical anthropology and sociology. The essence of the principle is that giving prompts receiving, thereby creating forms of ongoing exchange and durable cooperation. Reciprocity has been studied both as a factor affecting family life and as an outcome of family life (e.g., Dwyer, Lee & Jankowski, 1994; Dwyer & Miller, 1990). Only a few studies focus on reciprocity itself by investigating the various forms reciprocal exchanges among kin can take (Hogan, Eggebeen, & Clogg, 1993; Sarkisian & Gerstel, 2004). As yet it is unclear to what extent giving support in families is 'answered' by receiving support or remains one-sided. Who are the main givers within families and who are the principal receivers? Are there any cultural differences in patterns of reciprocity within the family, as the work of Kagitçibasi ( 1996) suggests? These questions will be addressed in this article. Prior to discussing some modem views and findings about reciprocity in families we will pay attention to classical theory on reciprocity, since it contains the building blocks on which all later work on reciprocity is based (Komter, 2005).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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