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Title: More than money : the social meaning of philanthropy in contemporary UK society
Author: Breeze, Elizabeth Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 2688 2857
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2010
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Philanthropy is a significant part of contemporary UK society that is over-exposed yet under-conceptualised. This thesis presents new data on significant philanthropists and offers a theoretical exploration of its non-economic properties. In particular, it seeks to identify the defining characteristics of philanthropy in the UK at the start of the 21 st century and explore the suggestion that there has recently arisen a 'new philanthropy'. Four separate and inter-related studies are presented. The first examines the wide variety of philanthropic behaviours and logics, and presents a new typology to bring clarity to the generic concept of philanthropy. The second study analyses philanthropists' rhetoric and finds it typically seeks to create and sustain a successful identity that integrates giving into a coherent account encompassing both personal and professional biographies. In contrast to the coherent narratives pursued by philanthropists, the third study finds that various contradictory representations of philanthropy exist in the public imagination. The final study finds no evidence that a substantively 'new philanthropy' exists and argues that any novelty lies largely in the way philanthropy is presented and discussed. This thesis argues that contemporary UK philanthropy is not just a financial transaction, it is about much more than money. In particular, it has transformative potential for donors, contributing to their identity work and their pursuit of modern standards of success, notably significance, influence and authenticity. However, public representations of philanthropy are found to be incoherent and contradictory because contemporary UK society is not comfortable about wealth making, is unsure what status to give the wealthy and therefore does not know how to characterise or assess the desirability of wealth-giving. This results in the complex and confusing character of philanthropy in contemporary UK society that is documented in this thesis.
Supervisor: Furedi, Frank Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: H Social Sciences