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More than Money: The social meaning of philanthropy in contemporary UK society

Breeze, Elizabeth Ann (2010) More than Money: The social meaning of philanthropy in contemporary UK society. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86416) (KAR id:86416)


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.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Furedi, Frank
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86416
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:58 UTC
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2022 13:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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