Theres a theory of moral development (by Krebs and Van Hesteren) that can be applied to gift economics.
The levels of moral development are
1: Egocentric accomodation – to fulfill safety and effectance needs
2: Instrumental cooperation – gives in order to get
3: Mutual altruism: sensitive to the audience of generalized others. Aims at fulfilling shared social obligations, avoiding disapproval, upholding bonds of friendship, behaving in socially acceptable manner. There is a sense of we that transcends the me
4: Conscientious altruism – Guided by an internalized sense of responsiblity to the group and a conscience of what is good
5: Autonomous altruism – guided more by higher order principles that uphold human dignity, equal rights, and maximizing benefits for all, than by external norms, laws or social conventions
6: Integrated altruism – The self-other difference becomes transcended. Self’s interests integrated with others. There is understanding that there will be conflicts and decisions are guided by principles of justness, fairness, impartiality. The goal is to foster maximally balanced and integrated social relations
7: Universal self-sacrificial love – stems from feelings of cosmic oneness. It is selfless and stems from agape, an ethic of univeral love, sacrifice, and service. The goal is to mesh with the ultimately transformed world and coordinated non-violent world.
So we can say apply this to gift circles
At a gift circle you may give : from level 2 – so that you can get something.
3. – so that you you are fulfilling the social obligation of the gift circle
4. so that you fulfill your responsibility to the group and to build community
5. because you are guided by higher principles of dignity and maximizing benefits
6. because your self interests are intertwined with others interests. There is a melding of self and others
7. because you feel the cosmic oneness
I’ve noticed that different gift circles can feel quite different, and I think they are operating at different levels on this scale.
[These levels also correspond to Wilbers integral theory levels. 3 blue 4 orange 5 green 6 teal 7 turquoise]