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Gift Giving in Enduring Dyadic Relationships: The Micropolitics of Mother-Daughter Gift Exchange

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/01/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Consumer Research
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date9/01/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper investigates the dynamics of long-term gift exchange between British mothers and their adult daughters, delving into the processes behind dyadic gift-giving. Through 54 comprehensive interviews, we elaborate the micropolitics that characterize these dynamics. Micropolitics refers to the subtle, everyday interactions, including gift exchange, that shape the ongoing negotiation of roles and the management of conflict or consensus within relationships. The study uncovers how these micropolitics manifest through four distinct processes of gift exchange: confirming, endorsing, connoting, and commanding. Gifts emerge as key instruments in this negotiation, serving as a medium for the reciprocal regulation of role behavior concerning gender, identity, and both endo-dyadic (within the dyad) and exo-dyadic (outside the dyad) roles. In contrast to previous research that adopts a synchronic (snapshot) approach to gift-giving, our diachronic (over time) perspective emphasizes how power dynamics, intent, and identity politics evolve to sustain and transform relationships. Our findings illustrate the important communicative and power-laden processes of gift exchange in enduring relations, explaining why even unwanted gifts can have significant bonding value. Our study offers fresh perspectives on the continuous evolution of relationship and role dynamics, as viewed through the practices of gift exchange.