The crisis that market societies are undergoing is essentially a crisis of relationships. It originates in the illusion that the market, through the actions of an invisible hand operating in impersonal market relationships, can present us a good common life that is exempt from the possibility of being wounded by the other.
Luigino Bruni offers an authoritative and innovative look at the cultural and anthropological premises underlying contemporary market economies and their promises. He suggests that the market has betrayed its promises, offering the prevalence of unhappiness in our cities as evidence, and points out the need for balancing the increasing tendency toward isolation with the human need for relationships.
Bruni proposes gratuitousness - free and open reciprocity, quite different from altruism - as a means of maximizing the benefits of the market (and the equality and freedom that market contracts propose) without losing the joy that comes from putting the relationship with the others in the market as the primary good.