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Title:Civic Fitness: The Politics of Breast Cancer and the Problem of Generosity
Author(s):King, Samantha Jane
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cole, Cheryl
Department / Program:Kinesiology and Community Health
Discipline:Kinesiology and Community Health
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Health Sciences, Public Health
Abstract:This study traces the emergence of three technologies of volunteerism and philanthropy in the past two decades in the United States: federal legislation to encourage charitable solutions to social problems, cause-related marketing, and physical activity-based fundraising events. At the broadest level, the study seeks to ask how and why these technologies of generosity have come to occupy such a central position in the imagination, experience, and conduct of American identity and citizenship. More specifically, it focuses on the emergence of breast cancer as a philanthropic cause par excellence and asks, what knowledges and truths propel and emerge from breast cancer-related technologies of giving, and, how are these technologies implicated in the formation of subjects and the shaping of citizens? The conclusion I draw from my research is that participation in practices of generosity has become a key emblem of proper and productive citizenship. Technologies of breast cancer giving, in particular, reflect and produce a remolded view of America as a conflict free and integrated nation whose survival depends on personal acts of philanthropy mediated through consumer culture. This view has gained purchase because its emergence has coincided with (a) the popular demonization of political agitation popularly associated with the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and (b) a widely held sense that state funded social welfare programs created over the past century have stifled America's "traditional" culture of personal generosity. New technologies of volunteerism, and philanthropy, in contrast, are thought to offer subjects access to less fraught and "divisive" modes of civic participation, to rekindle the lost culture of generosity, and to help constitute benevolent, personally responsible, and active citizens. As these new technologies help shape particular kinds of citizens and distinguish the "good" from the "bad," they are also implicated in the formation of a corporatized "public" sphere in which political sentiment is increasingly expressed by the purchase of products or the donation of money. Moreover, because these technologies intertwine political sentiment with practices of benevolence, they are, I suggest, particularly resistant to dissent.
Issue Date:2000
Description:221 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9990043
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2000

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