Inheritance Events: Perceptions of Actions that Involve the Giving and Receiving of Things

Jacqueline J. Goodnow, Jeanette A. Lawrence

Abstract


To explore perceptions of inheritance events, people were asked to describe arrangements they regarded as having "worked well" or not. This approach was productive. It yielded narratives that covered positive and negative arrangements, contributed by younger and older adults (mean ages 18 and 45 with few signs of age differences). Selected for closer analysis were 56 narratives involving things rather than only money or land. The aims were to investigate what distinguishes actions viewed positively or negatively, and whether inheritance giving and receiving is like gift-giving and gift-receiving. Analysis brought out the need to separate two routes to acquisition (direct gifts and "family works it out"), and distinctions among actions (e.g., actions treating objects as "treasures" or "commodities"). They also brought out concerns with distributive and procedural aspects of actions. There was a reasonable fit between the results and general proposals about gift giving and receiving. Some redefinitions, however, were needed for concepts of "commodity" and "reciprocity". The results add to our understanding of why inheritable things matter and the features of inheritance-related actions that people regard as significant.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0801252

Keywords


inheritance arrangements; inheritable things; family narratives; personal items; commoditisation

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Copyright (c) 2008 Jacqueline J. Goodnow, Jeanette A. Lawrence

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.