Sociological Theory 21 (4):341-358 (2003)
|Abstract||Questions concerning the essential nature of altruism, the existence of an altruistic personality, and the genetic, biosocial, and social psychological bases of altruistic behavior have dominated theory and research on the topic. The current paper reconceptualizes financial altruism sociologically as a form of unilateral resource exchanges, or welfare. The alternative definition employs Donald Black's (1979, 2000) analytic approach to describe and explain the behavior of welfare with its location and direction in social space. The paper offers several propositions that purport to explain variations in welfare by drawing upon cross-cultural research. In general, welfare flows in the direction of those who are less integrated and who have lower social status. In addition, welfare varies directly with intimacy, conventionality, and respectability. Finally, welfare varies inversely with relational distance, cultural distance, and group size. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of strengths and limitations of the general propositions advanced|
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