When elites and outlaws do philanthropy: on the limits of private vices for public benefit

Abstract

In the last decade, elitist philanthropy exploded in certain parts of the West and so did philanthropy of outlaw motorcycle clubs. The question is, under what conditions does philanthropy become an effective strategy of legitimization of one’s power in society? Neoliberalism did not only result in extreme inequality, weakening of the state, and emergence of increasingly disillusioned population, but also enabled philanthropy to become an effective strategy of legitimization of the informal power of both billionaires and criminal organizations alike. Philanthropy became instrumental both to image management in face of crises of reputation and to the insertion of these transnational non-state actors into governance. The destructive effects of neoliberalism allowed both groups to grow, and to reproduce and accelerate the very conditions in which they thrive, thus further weakening the state and fuelling inequality. The argument counters popular narratives about how private vices and greed can serve public benefit.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/what-philanthropy-and-why-does-it-matter-21st-century (accessed 5 January 2017).

  2. 2.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1990-04-29/local/me-90_1_george-christie

  3. 3.

    From a conversation with an outlaw biker at the annual Harley Davidson’s week in Faaker See, 2017.

  4. 4.

    From an interview with a German member of an outlaw motorcycle club, June 2016.

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Funding

This study was funded by The Research Council of Norway through a FRIPRO Mobility Grant, contract no 250716. The FRIPRO Mobility grant scheme (FRICON) is co-funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under Marie Curie grant agreement no 608695.

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Correspondence to Tereza Kuldova.

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Author, Tereza Kuldova, declares that she has no conflict of interest.

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Kuldova, T. When elites and outlaws do philanthropy: on the limits of private vices for public benefit. Trends Organ Crim 21, 295–309 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12117-017-9323-6

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Keywords

  • Philanthropy
  • Outlaw motorcycle clubs
  • Crime
  • Non-state governance