The human condition and the gift: Towards a theoretical perspective on close relationships [Book Review]

Human Studies 31 (2):133 - 155 (2008)
Abstract
Hannah Arendt’s exposition of the human condition provides the basic framework for a theoretical perspective on close relationships. According to Arendt, the human condition is comprised of three modes of activity: labor, work, and action. Labor is need-driven behavior, work concerns goal-directed activity and the fabrication of things, and action involves the mutual validation of unique individuals. Within this framework, the gift is the means by which relational ties are made concrete. I propose a model of gift-giving organized by two axes: whether or not the partner is singularized by the gift and whether or not the gift is given with an expectation of a return gift. I then apply this model to the three modes of the human condition.
Keywords Existential anxiety  Gift  Hannah Arendt  Human condition  Ontological security
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