We praise those people who do things for others. But the symbolic power of giving means individuals can take advantage of the glow of 'goodness' that charity provides.
This book analyses the reality of how charity operates in the social world; how the personal benefits of giving and volunteering are vital for getting charitable acts to happen; how the altruism associated with gifts isn't always what it seems; how charity misbehaviour or bad management gets overlooked; and how charity symbols are weaponised against those who don't participate.
Drawing on original data and a novel application of the sociology of Bourdieu, this book examines a wide range of examples from culture, politics and society to provide an entertaining critique of how contemporary charity works.
"This book is accessible and comes with a series of rich cases. Dean makes an original contribution as he promotes a structural understanding of charity, stressing political sociological theories to understand the social, political, and normative orders shaping charity. His use of theories of fields and capital is novel, which also goes for his introduction to Mauss’ theory of gift, Goffman’s dramaturgical sociology, and Weber’s concept of charismatic authority." Voluntas
“A hugely relevant and important book for how we understand the institution of charity and how it mobilises and utilises symbolic power. A must read for all scholars of charity.” Eddy Hogg, University of Kent
"This is an engaging, must-read analysis for anyone interested in understanding charity and its influence on our lives and society." Angela Eikenberry, University of Nebraska
"From charity humblebrags to performance philanthropy, this fascinating and highly-readable book provides many valuable insights for anyone interested in understanding the cultural and social role of charity." Rhodri Davies, Charities Aid Foundation
Jon Dean is Reader in Politics and Sociology at Sheffield Hallam University.
Giving and getting: Using charity’s symbolic power
#humblebrags and the good giving self on social media
Charities, expertise and policy
The kids aren’t alright: The collapse of Kids Company
Effective altruism and ignoring charity’s symbolic power
Conclusions: The good glow