In this weeks material there were a numerous forms of exchange that were discussed. The three main ones that I took away was reciprocity, redistribution and market exchange which all stems from distribution. Distribution is the manner of which goods circulate through society. Before this week’s lecture I was only truly aware of market exchange because that is the form of distribution that the United States is so primarily focused in. Market exchange focuses on the exchange of goods and services for money that are determined by supply and demand. Which means, depending on the economic state, the goods and services price can increase or decrease. This reminded me of the Great Depression where the United States was in their longest economic recession and the goods and services were priced significantly different around the time due to the economy.
Another form of exchange that is usually practice in numerous countries outside the United States is redistribution, which is the collection of goods by a center authority followed by distribution according to normative or legal principle. An example of this is the government system that we have In place that collects taxes and uses the money to create schools, buildings, etc. for communities. When learning about redistribution I could not help but to think how important of a job it is to charge taxes differently state by state due to the cost of living, construction, etc. For example, I currently live in Chicago and the cost of living here is way different than in Michigan, which is why we are tax differently. I lived and worked in Michigan my whole life up until May so I did not realize the importance of redistribution, and taxes, until I was put in a position where I was being charged differently than I was use to. I now understand that the government must adjust taxes per state to ensure that they are able to properly redistribute the money back into our communities and how a person labor, where they fall in the tax bracket, is apart of the system of exchange because individuals in a much higher tax bracket are taxed differently than those who fall lower which I am very grateful for!
Another form of exchange I found to be quite interesting was the Potlatch Exchange, which is practiced mainly in the Northwest Coast of the U.S. and Canada. This exchange focuses mainly around reciprocity, which is the goods and services between two different groups of people. In the Potlatch Exchange you have the opportunity to change your ranking in the social system by the exchange of goods. You present these goods at weddings, funerals, etc. that you and your family collected and in order to move up ranking in the social system. There has to be another family that is receptive to receiving the goods. Once completed, the family that receives the goods distributes the large amount of goods to numerous families. I thought this was very interesting way to look at reciprocity because in the United States a way that we participate reciprocity is by the obligation of gift giving around holidays, birthdays, etc. but, unlike the Potlatch Exchange, you gain no power or higher ranking in the social system based on the content/amount of gifts you give.