CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

One must have received in order to learn to consume. Based on empirical research on youth and money in Switzerland, this article argues that it is through the gift of money within the familial space that the disposition to consume and the modern Homo oeconomicus are constructed. It is as if parents, through the gifting of money, showed an acute pedagogical sense that aimed at the transmission of an ethos of moderate and rational consumption. As for the obligation to return that is felt by youth, it expresses itself through widely diverse forms of reciprocity which vary according to their trajectories and status (students, apprentices, lowly trained). Since it cannot be cleansed by immediate and equivalent returns, the symbolic debt of youth towards their parents is redirected towards future generations through a variety of actions, such as a politically or morally committed consumption (such as durable, organic or ethical consumption).

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