Echanges contractuels, dons et reconnaissance à l'assistance publique
Social workers are charged with the task of helping recipients of public aid find a socially recognised place in society. This basis for this interaction is essentially contractual: in exchange for their efforts to «rehabilitate» themselves, welfare recipients receive an income covering their basic needs. However, our fieldwork demonstrates that parallel to this contractual exchange, enforceable through sanctions, the protagonists to these interactions exchange words, sentiments and objects. We propose to qualify these «supplements» as «gifts» in the anthropological sense of the term, insofar as they seem both free and constrained, and respond to a need for interpersonal recognition on the part of social workers and aid recipients alike.