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  Öffentlicher Vortrag | Public Lecture

Mittwoch, 19. Juni 2019 | 17 Uhr (s.t.)

Philanthrocapitalism, Economic Inequality, and the Rise of Rich-to-Rich Giving

Linsey McGoey, University of Essex



Media and public acclaim for mega-gifts from billionaires such as Zuckerberg, Gates, and Buffett suggest that we are living in a golden era of philanthropic giving, with new techniques such as “philanthrocapitalism” seen as marking a dramatic change from earlier approaches to charitable giving. This talk examines the roots and social implications of the “new” philanthrocapitalism, exploring how it diverges from earlier approaches to philanthropy during the late nineteenth century. McGoey argues that while some claims to novelty are exaggerated, other distinctive aspects – such as the for-profit turn in philanthropic giving – have received surprisingly little media attention, compounding a lack of scholarly and public attention to the unprecedented and still unknown scale of personal and corporate profiteering from charitable giving. Is philanthropy helping to alleviate global and national levels of inequality, or simply making inequality worse? These questions have no precise answers. Even the questions have received surprisingly little attention among economic sociologists. The talk concludes with considerations of why sociologists have neglected the study of philanthropy in recent decades, how and why this neglect is changing today, and what this means for shifting notions of economic justice and injustice.

Linsey McGoey is Reader in Sociology at the University of Essex, and the author of No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy (Verso, 2015) and The Unknowers (Zed, 2018). She is on the editorial board of Economy and Society. She contributes frequently to publications geared at a general audience, including recent articles in The Guardian, Fortune, Jacobin, and The Times.

Selected Publications
  • McGoey, Linsey. 2012. "Philanthrocapitalism and Its Critics." Poetics 40 (2), 185-199.
  • McGoey, Linsey. 2014. "The Philanthropic State: Market-State Hybrids in the Philanthrocapitalist Turn." Third World Quarterly 35 (9), 109–125.
  • McGoey, Linsey. 2015. No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy Verso, London.
  • McGoey, Linsey. 2017. "Bataille and the Sociology of Abundance: Rethinking Gifts, Debt and Economic Excess." Theory, Culture and Society, DOI: 10.1177/0263276416637905.
  • McGoey, Linsey. 2017. "The Elusive Rentier Rich: Piketty’s Data Battles and the Value of Absent Evidence." Science, Technology, and Human Values, DOI 10.1177/0162243916682598.

Preparatory Reading  

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