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  • Peltonen, Matti (1985)
    The writer discusses the use of alcohol in Finnish rural communities in the light of Marcel Mauss's theory of a system of reciprocal non-equivalent gift exchange. His views are based on a description written in the 1850s by a Virolahti merchant of peasant origin called Eljas Raussi. On the basis of this description and miscellaneous other sources, the writer claims that the institution of gift exchange still survived in the Finnish farming community in the 19th century. Nor were gift exchange relationships restricted to Finland; Finnish fishermen had similar relationships with Sweden via the Aland Islands and the Turku archipelago and with Estonia across the Gulf of Finland. These relationships show a remarkable affinity with Bronislaw Malinowski's description of the kula institution. The unusual feature of the Finnish gift exchange system was the gift itself, alcohol: beer in the 16th and 17th centuries (the first data are from this period), and distilled spirits with increasing frequency from the 18th century on. Alcohol thus acquired the role occupied by coral necklaces in the kula system and by blankets and copper ornaments in the potlach ceremonies. Alcohol became a gift. Three points are stressed in the conclusions of the article. In the first place, it is suggested that a more complex view should be adopted of the use of alcohol in the old rural communities; it comprised elements of which we may still be unaware. Secondly, the writer claims that our deficient knowledge of rural alcohol customs is due to the biased nature of our historical research. The earliest descriptions of the drinking habits Of the common people were generally written by clergymen or other members of the gentry. It is shown here that they had good reason to bear false witness against their neighbour. Historical research has focused on alcohol policy and the temperance movement, and the most prominent researchers have been teetotallers. Thirdly, the writer claims that Marcel Mauss's theory of gift exchange may help us understand some important aspects of the special attitude Finns — and perhaps other northern peoples —have to alcohol.
  • Voigt, H.-R. (Centralförbundet för fiskerihushållning, 1970)
  • Voigt, H.-R. (Nordenskiöld-samfundet, 1986)
  • Voigt, H.-R. (Centralförbundet för Fiskerihushållning, 1994)
  • Untitled 
    Unknown author (2012)