Print version ISSN 0104-9313
ABREU, Luiz Eduardo. The exchange of words and the exchange of things: politics and language in the Brazilian Congress.Translated byDavid Rodgers. Mana [online]. 2006, vol.2Selected edition, pp. 0-0. ISSN 0104-9313.
Since Lévi-Strauss, anthropologists have been trained to see the exchange relationship identified by Mauss in The Gift as a form of communication. Linguistics, reasoned Lévi-Strauss, holds the key to our understanding of society. This paper develops this anthropological interest in language by pursuing an altogether different approach. Applying Wittgenstein's idea that the meaning of a word is set by its use in actual situations (actual language games), the paper describes the rules for the language games played by politicians in the Brazilian Congress. The most striking of these rules is that politics should be understood as the exchange of material and immaterial things, following the same patterns of gift exchange explored by Mauss. Arguing that, at least in some contexts, the word itself is part of such exchanges, the paper aims to provide an ethnographical investigation of politics as the relationship between the exchange of words and the exchange of things.
Keywords : Language; Politics; Exchange; Power; Brazilian Congress.