37 Hanna Palska BETWEEN GRATITUDE AND HUMILIATION Incurring Debts and Receiving Gifts as Part of the Life-Strategy of the Poor ' Only by giving in anticipation are we free. (G. Simmel: Private) Sociological literature devotes much attention to analysis of the mechanisms of social exclusion and marginalization-that is, a situation in which people are sys- tematically deprived of the possibility of 'equal' participation in social life or (as others see it) one in which people deprive themselves of such a possibility. One of the main forms of participation is economic self-sufficiency: the earning and spending of money at one's own discretion. People deprived of the possibility of exercising such discretion over income from work for various reasons (most frequently, unemployment, single motherhood, large family, illness, or old age), try to find other-socially acceptable or at least tolerated-ways of obtaining the means of subsistence. In their struggle against marginalization they seek ways of 'keeping their heads above water' in 'normal' society. What they say,about their own self-protection strategies shows that they do not generally even con- sider breaking the law-by effectively stepping over the boundary of norms, or by begging-which, as they know, would certainly strongly stigmatize them. 1
East Central Europe – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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