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Philanthropic Foundations, Public Benefit and Social Change

Hinds, Kathryn; (2020) Philanthropic Foundations, Public Benefit and Social Change. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract This thesis investigates the role of philanthropic foundations in social change. History shows that individual philanthropists, such as Andrew Carnegie, have had a considerable influence on our public life, and more recently, much has been made of the financial gifts to the public realm by entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. However, commentators have been troubled by the essentially conservative nature of these gifts and the avoidance of tax payments which would be a more sustained contribution to public life than one-off gifts. Philanthropic foundations sit uneasily within democracies, as expressions of the choices of powerful individuals, seemingly outside the control of state authorities and without representation of the citizenry as to how they spend their money. Some philanthropic foundations in the UK have expressed a desire to fundamentally alter societal structures to further social justice goals rather than simply alleviating the suffering of individuals. This ambition is problematic since, without representation, they lack moral legitimacy. I follow the grant programmes of two foundations which have publicly committed to structural change. They are both endowed so they do not need to fundraise or appeal to donors. I explore how they constructed their moral legitimacy to act in the policy fields of crime and employment. I chart their achievements to consider whether their efforts contribute to social change or reinforce the ideologies of the government. I take a critical realist perspective and use Margaret Archer’s morphogenetic cycle to understand the potential of their work to alter social arrangements. I combine this model with Boltanski and Thevenot’s work on how organizations justify themselves to society in terms of the common good or public benefit in order to understand their underlying ideologies which prompt the pursuance of one solution above another.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Philanthropic Foundations, Public Benefit and Social Change
Event: UCL
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10114840
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