Unwrapping the Children's Gift Box. a Sociological Perspective on the Role of Offering Toys, Clothes and Money in the Construction of Desirable Futures.

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 10:00
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Filipa CACHAPA, University of Lisbon, Institute of Social Sciences, Portugal
Rosalina COSTA, CEPESE, Portugal, Universidade de Evora, Portugal
Offering and receiving presents is ubiquitous in family life, particularly in the context of children’s birthday’s parties and other special events such as Christmas. In their narratives about gift giving, present-day parents tend to emphasize the importance of granting what the child wants and what makes him/her happy. However, when asked about what children actually receive, parents end up referring to multiple gifts, including toys, clothes and money. Although gift giving is a classical topic in anthropology studies, some questions remain unsolved as far as a sociological perspective is concerned. Why does this happen? What is behind these decisions and why are gifts perceived differently by the parties involved, namely the parents and children? To answer this question, this paper brings together contributions from two sociological studies carried out in Portugal based upon semi-structured interviews. Through qualitative content analysis procedures, data was  examined and analyzed in the context of how parents reflect on the gifts they offer to children, and how young adults retrospectively realize the importance of the gifts their parents offered them during childhood and adolescence. By the end, we expect that crossed gazes over the seemingly ordinary act of gift giving to children might shed new light on the issue, especially regarding their role in the construction of the futures familes both want and do not want.