Students Staff

15 October 2015

Philanthrocapitalism; does it help or hinder?

No Such Thing as a Free Gift book cover

Book by Dr Linsey McGoey.

 A new book by Dr Linsey McGoey from the Department of Sociology, puts a new age of charitable giving dubbed ‘philanthrocapitalism’ under the microscope.

In No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy, Dr McGoey looks at how philanthropy has become big business and asks whether large scale philanthropists are actually contributing to the very social and economic instabilities and inequalities they are purporting to rectify.

In an age where big charitable organisations are seen by some to be replacing governments as the providers of social welfare, Dr McGoey discusses the main concerns around philanthrocapitalism; accountability and transparency, or lack thereof. 

Speaking about the book, Dr McGoey said, “Far from being selfless, plutocratic philanthropy may be the ultimate profit making tool. Philanthropists themselves are often the first to admit that their philanthropy is aimed at preserving rather than distributing wealth.

“In addition, this deluge of philanthropy has helped create a world where billionaires wield more power over education policy, global agriculture and global health than ever before. It also means that in channelling private funds towards public services, support for government spending on areas such as health and education is eroded.”

There are more than 85,000 private foundations in the United States and nearly half of those have come into being since the year 2000. Just under 5,000 more were established in 2011 alone.

Dr McGoey has been a member of the World Health Organization’s expert steering group on the impact of a human rights–based approach to maternal and children’s health.

No Such Thing as a Free Gift is published by Verso on 20 October. 

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