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Document Details :

Title: Gifts and Alliances in Java
Author(s): VERHEZEN, Peter
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 9    Issue: 1   Date: 2002   
Pages: 56-65
DOI: 10.2143/EP.9.1.503844

Abstract :
This paper clearly distinguishes gifts from bribery. Both seem to feature similar characteristics. However, the conceptual differences are obvious when one analyzes the nature of the relationships and alliances behind gifts, as opposed to bribes.

The first part of this paper focuses on the conceptual similarities and differences between gifts and market exchanges, and subsequently on how bribery emerges as an illegal market transaction under the conceptual banner of a gift.

The second part tries to describe empirically how this gift mechanism has created and maintained social alliances in traditional Java, and how it has been transformed into an instrumental and utilitarian tool for government officials and the economic elite in urban ‘modern’ Java to enrich themselves.

The contemporary transition process in Java from hierarchical autocratic alliances to profit-maximizing alliances enabled by democratic institutional changes could not prohibit bribery from taking root under a convenient cultural flag. The logic of the gift as applied in traditional Java has been transformed into a cultural gimmick for personal gains in contemporary Java — often alienated from their social context — because no social and personal values or legal enforcement are effectively working to stop these anti-social 'gift practices'.

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