Gifts passed on from generations hold symbolic value

January 27th, 2009 - 2:49 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 27 (ANI): Gifts passed on from one generation of family members to the next are worth more than their monetary value, because such presents carry the symbolic value attributed to them by the family’’s traditions, lore, and heritage, says a new study.

Author Tonya Williams Bradford (University of Notre Dame) said that it’’s not just stuff or money when it comes from a special relative or has a meaningful story behind it.

She added that assets that have “symbolic value serve to nurture family ties from the past into the future.”

Bradford found that gifts from family members have great symbolic value and are treated with care, so much so, that certain funds are separated out as “special money” because it has significance within the family.

She demonstrated that even gifts of assets, which can easily be appraised and sold, often become symbolic when passed from one generation to another, and that they are frequently treated differently than equivalent assets that were not received from a parent or grandparent.

“Labels are not only ascribed to gifted assets, but are transferred from past to future generations through family caretakers who nurture both the symbolic meaning and market values of the gifted assets,” wrote the author.

She also learned that certain assets are often considered surrogate family members and even discovered that families sustain their heritage by imposing hierarchies on assets.

“These findings expand our understanding of and create new opportunities to examine how individuals employ a special form of possessionsinalienable wealth as assetsincluding how individuals choose to part with assets, a choice necessary for the well-being of all economies, she concluded.

The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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