The notion of a “gift economy” is an interesting one that brings the idea of non-economic connections into focus. Given that most of us spend most of our time in commercial, consumer-focused world, thinking about alternatives provides an interesting perspective.
See also: Gift economy – Wikipedia
My old thesis, But that Speaking Makes it So, puts it like this:
There are a number of interlinking elements which invest gift exchange with the power to transform and connect people. Two of these are faithfulness and gratitude. “Faithfulness,” writes Georg Simmel, “might be called the inertia of the soul. It keeps the soul on the path on which it started, even if the original occasion that led it onto it no longer exists.” Faithfulness allows for already established relationships to continue, even after the initial impetus to their formation has passed. Thus the existence of a drive towards faithfulness in individuals means that people will tend to continue what has already begun, and that gift relationships will tend to endure once started. For this reason, accepting a gift, and thus establishing a relationship, is a decision which exceeds the temporal limits of the immediate gift exchange. It means at least accepting the possibility of a long-term relationship.