This essay discusses the phenomenon of the exchange, taken as the institution that founds both cultural and social relationships. The search for comprehending this phenomenon is based on the analysis of two mythical-theoretical moments in which the interaction forms are marked by the absence of the exchange: on one hand, the operational concepts related to a pre-cultural stage of mankind, mentioned in different moments by Hobbes and by Freud, in a context of pure violence; on the other hand, the invention of the idea of gratuitousness that supposes the impossibility of reciprocity, due to the unequal structure between the parts in interaction. Although we take the exchanges as the major foundation of social relationships, typical of the advanced stages of culture, we sustain also that, most frequently, they are traversed by inequality and constantly by the irruption of conflicts. Those are nevertheless considered as an essential element for the cultural development and for the dynamics of social relationships.
Social interaction; Violence; Conflict