Philanthrocapitalism: The New Business For 'Doing Good'? Open Access

Hoffstein, Hillary (2017)

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America's capitalist market is experiencing a promising surge of energy around social causes and social enterprises. Prominent leaders revere this as The New Frontier of Philanthropy--Philanthrocapitalism. This innovative, world-shaping field encompasses a long list of buzzwords, such as "corporate philanthropy," "marketized philanthropy," "philanthropreneurship" and the like. In this thesis, we first examine the overarching discourse among leaders, benefactors, and scholars regarding the meaning, motives, and impact of philanthropy. Then, we explore this growing combination of business ventures and philanthropic initiatives through a multifaceted case study of the coffee industry. By working within unjust market systems, it is unclear if and how this capitalist approach to philanthropy could actually change global conditions. By simply purchasing products like the sustainable coffee cup, or making charitable donations to far distant Fair Trade cooperatives, consumers may feel they are making a bigger contribution, which could prevent them from other, meaningful action. Thus, I believe these cross-sector paradigms are challenging both our gullibility and perception of what social impact truly means. Through my thesis, I will question the impact of this popular market-based strategy. Instead of increasing public action and igniting change as it claims, I will expose why philanthrocapitalism is a counterproductive movement, as it disassociates the consumer from the cause through commerce. Then, through ongoing research of the specialty coffee industry, I will explain how a new paradigm is occurring, which more accurately reflects ancient origins of philanthropy. Indeed, by revisiting ideas of virtue, justice, and kindness towards others, a relationship-based, data-driven movement is actually changing the way global markets can work for everyone.

Table of Contents

Setting the Scene 8

The History of Philanthropy 11

Pivoting from the Past 15

The Foundations of Contemporary Philanthrocapitalism 17

The New Frontier of Philanthropy 20

The Coffee Industry 24

The Fair Trade Movement 31

Fair, Fairer, Fairest Trade 34

Direct Trade Relations: From Farm to Cup 40

Transparent Trade Coffee 46

New Avenues of Trade 50

Questioning Philanthrocapitalism 55

Conclusion 59

Bibliography 61

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