Typology of relations of giving and receiving
Note that, in presenting this typology, I will often follow Cohen's own practice of characterizing the relations between individuals in two-person terms. This is for simplicity of exposition. Of course, in multi-person networks such as on the camping trip, A can give something to B, and B likewise to C, and C to D, and D to A, so that reciprocity is only realized across the whole network and not by every given pair of individuals directly giving something to or doing something for one another. Note also that henceforth I will often speak simply of giving, in order to avoid more cumbersome locutions like the one just used: 'giving something to or doing something for'. I use 'giving' to cover objects, efforts, favours and so forth. The typology I now set out ranges over six sorts of relation.
1. Unilateral giving without expectation. Here A gives to B without expecting anything at all in return. Looking after an infant might be one example; sending a donation to charity another.
2. Unilateral giving with expectation. By this I have in mind the case in which A gives something to B not for any comparable benefit, but expecting, say, appreciation or gratitude from B; or A may hope thereby to win B's good opinion of her character. I still treat this relation as unilateral rather than reciprocal giving, despite the expectation or hope of some attitudinal return, so to say; I do this partly because the attitudinal return may not be forthcoming, or sincere, and partly because even if it is both, it is all but costless in effort and resources and is, in that sense, not a return of the same kind.
3. Reciprocal giving without equivalence. It may happen that between neighbours there is a certain amount of mutual help. A takes B's wheelie bin out to the road with his own when he happens to get to this before she does, and B does the same for A in the like circumstance. Neither of them counts instances. Or B shares her crop of home-grown tomatoes with A and A sometimes bakes stuff to give B in return, but neither A nor B knows accurately or cares about the comparative values, however assessed, of what they thus exchange. Or else A is B's parent and B still a child, and in the common work of the household it is understood that A takes on a larger share, doing more for B than B does for A.
4. Reciprocal giving with (rough) equivalence. A and B are involved in a common project of some kind which costs both of them time and effort. Because they have different skills and/or resources, each contributes in a qualitatively different way, but on grounds of fairness they try to ensure that their inputs are approximately equal. Maybe this is two neighbours who share a common driveway and are working to pave it and otherwise improve it (with border plants or what have you). Or it is you driving your and a neighbour's children to school in the morning and her picking them up and bringing them home, because your working hours and hers make this a mutually convenient arrangement. When either of you cannot, for some reason, take their turn, that person pays for a mutual cab-driver friend to drive the children.
5. Market exchange with (rough) equivalence. A pays B for certain goods or services and/or B pays A likewise. For whatever combination of reasons their exchanges are of products or activities for amounts of money of equivalent value, however this is measured. Delia buys Harry's fish for what the fish are worth. As it so happens, she also gives Harry occasional piano lessons, and he pays her what both of them consider to be a fair rate for her teaching.
6. Market exchange without equivalence. Here A pays B for certain goods or services but he pays less than the goods or services are worth. The relationship is exploitative. Why B accepts it we do not need to consider. Whether it is because B has not properly valued what he sells and is treated like a mug, or because A has some powerful trading advantage about which B is powerless to do anything, I leave to one side.
Thus the typology. I will be going on to ask where, within this spectrum of six types of relation, Cohen's camping-trip nexus is most accurately placed.
(Part 5 is here.)