Informations and abstract
Keywords: Value, exchange cycles, pallets, Milan, hypermarket
This paper, based on an ethnographic study carried out in a hypermarket in Milan, describes and analyses a peculiar cycle of exchanges: the reciprocal exchange of EPAL pallets between truck drivers and warehousemen. This kind of transaction is presented as a particularly interesting case study, which allows the tension between the economic value and the cultural values created in the exchange to be explored. In these interchanges, pallets become both tools used to (illicitly) obtain money through trafficking and bargaining, and also valuable objects that create a web of trust and a shared morality among the workers involved in their trade. In this context, the transaction of pallets is depicted as an example of a cycle of exchanges that helps to create a cultural community, turning the value of the flow of goods exchanged in the hypermarket into cultural values relevant for this community.