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Malin Åkerström

Malin Åkerström

Professor emerita

Malin Åkerström

Suspicious Gifts: Bribery, Morality, and Professional Ethics


  • Malin Åkerström

Summary, in English

Gifts have been given and received in all eras and societies; gifts are part of a universal human exchange. The importance of creating and sustaining social bonds with the help of gifts is widely acknowledged by social scientists, not only from anthropological but also from economic, sociological, and political science perspectives. Contemporary anti-corruption campaigns, however, have gifts to be viewed with ever-increasing suspicion, with a “bribery gaze,” because it is feared that the social bonds created by gift giving may contaminate professional decision-making.

Suspicious Gifts: Bribery, Morality, and Professional Ethics

investigates the sensitive issue of gift exchanges and how they become an object of contention. Malin Åkerström investigates the moral dilemmas presented by bribes and gift giving as experienced by Swedish aid workers and professionals working in the public sector businessmen, and adoption agencies. She also deals with professionals’ interaction with foreign officials or contractors. Often times, a gift is just that, although sometimes the gift giving may be seen by others as a bribe.

Åkerström highlights the tensions between strict regulations designed to prevent corruption with the human affection for the institution of gift giving. She argues that bribes and gifts are important social phenomena because they are windows into classic sociological and anthropological research issues concerning interaction, social control, exchange, and rituals. This unique analysis will be of keen interest to all sociologists, public officials, and professionals.


  • Sociology

Publishing year




Document type



Transaction Publishers


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • gifts
  • bribes
  • corruption
  • bribery gaze
  • social bonds
  • business
  • aid workers
  • adoption
  • morality
  • interaction
  • sociology
  • anthropology
  • regulatory efforts



Research group

  • Kriminal- och socialvetenskapligt nätverk


  • ISBN: 978-0-7658-0761-8