we may find multiple forms of the gift – the Indian gift, the Melanesian gift, Polynesian gift, the Chinese gift, the Japanese gift, the American gift and so on.
At a deeper level, different gift forms reflect different kinds of persons and personhood. For example, in Melanesian societies the person is relationally constructed.
A primary feature of the relational personhood is that persons simply do not have alienable items at their disposal; they can only dispose of items by enchaining themselves in relations with others.
By contrast, the free autonomous individual defined by neoclassical economics has nothing intrinsic to his or her personhood but ‘bare undifferentiated free will’; everything else is alienable
In other words, differences in person and relational personhood provide us the key to better understanding why the Melanesian gift is inalienable and thus obligatory, while the Western gift is alienable and thus unconstraining**