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Title:The conscience of capital: philanthropy at the Chautauqua Institution
Author(s):Benson, Paul
Director of Research:Keller, Janet D.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Keller, Janet D.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Abelmann, Nancy A.; Bruner, Edward M.; Denzin, Norman K.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Chautauqua Institution
Abstract:This work seeks to demonstrate that philanthropy at Chautauqua Institution is a way of promoting, designing, preserving and protecting an idealized intellectual, aesthetic, spiritual, and emotional “way of life.” Of central importance is an understanding of how and why donors give and how the Institution shapes and is shaped by its contributors. The Institution promotes an ideology of multi-tiered life-long-learning, credibility, and need; donors respond through volunteering, stewardship, and donations; ultimately benefiting as the members of the collectivity receiving their own gifts. The Institution provides the setting and the donors embed themselves within it through personally identifying with its philosophy, history, and grounds. Donors join with the Institution through participation in its governance and programs, and through philanthropic activities. My argument/hypothesis is that there is a progression of ideological transference that fuels this philanthropy through time: Institution to donor and donor to Institution. When the Institution provides the appropriate philanthropic goals to Chautauquans; where the ideologies of Chautauquans and the Institution intersect and set each other into production; then decisions to donate are made, and the checks are written. A definitive act of personal engagement with the Institution is confirmed through philanthropic acts. The challenge of the work then is to explain the underlying conditions, the cultural environment and the mechanisms that generate this process. For that I position my work within critical scholarship focusing on philanthropy and augment that literature through insights gained by applying the work of Mikhail Bakhtin on ideological exchange, the work of Marcel Mauss on gift exchange, and the perspectives of Keith Basso, Akhil Gupta, and James Ferguson on the nature of place.
Issue Date:2012-05-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Paul Benson
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-05-22
Date Deposited:2012-05

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