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Jelena Vasiljević and Bojana Radovanović: Concepts and practices of solidarity and philanthropy: similarities and differences

14. April 12:00 - 14:00

Solidarity and philanthropy have been in the focus of distinct bodies of scholarship with almost no overlapping. Philanthropy is defined as a voluntary action for the public good. It entails dedication of private resources, which can be material or non-material, for the benefit of other people, local community or the society. Solidarity signifies practices reflecting a commitment to carry costs to assist others with whom we recognise similarity in a relevant respect. It implies a feeling of togetherness and acting as a consequence of that. In contrast to philanthropy, which is often seen, though not exclusively, as an expression of altruism, solidarity is usually described as politically motivated.

The times of acute national or global crises, such as the current one created by the Covid 19 pandemic, show that many practices usually considered to belong to the “philanthropy camp”, such as donating money and volunteering time to organisations and initiatives that provide support to the people affected by the crisis, are also often referred to as solidarity. This suggests that philanthropy and solidarity are closely related concepts, yet with certain mutually exclusive traits that we argue are essential for better understanding of both. However, while there have been theoretical studies on the concept of philanthropy and to a lesser extent of solidarity, scholarly research that simultaneously analyses both, remains scarce. The main concern of this talk is to detect the similarities and differences between philanthropy and solidarity, focusing on both the concepts and the socio-political practices discursively characterized as philanthropic or solidary acts. Three main questions lead our research: How have solidarity and philanthropy been conceptualised within the academic discourse of social sciences? What are the contexts and modes of usage that render these notions at times compatible and overlapping, and at times irreconcilable? How have these concepts been translated into the sets of socio-political practices?

Jelena Vasiljević is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade. Her background is in political anthropology and citizenship studies. Her main areas of expertise and research interests include: citizenship transformations in post-Yugoslav states, memory politics, active citizenship and social movements, political solidarity, theories of solidarity, Southeast Europe, social engagement. She was a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and a Research Fellow at the Centre for South East European Studies, University of Graz. She is the author of the awarded book The Anthropology of Citizenship (in Serbian, 2016), and her articles appeared in Nations and Nationalism, Citizenship Studies and East European Politics and Societies among other journals. She is an expert member of The Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG).

Bojana Radovanović is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade and a coordinator of the Laboratory for philanthropy, solidarity and care studies – SolidCare Lab. She obtained her PhD in Development studies at the University of Cambridge. Within her PhD research, entitled Individual giving: Theoretical Discussions and the Evidence from Serbia and Canada, she conducted a national survey on formal and informal philanthropy in Serbia. She has published on volunteering, social engagement, capability approach and human development. She is a member of ERNOP (European Research Network of Philanthropy). Her paper “Conceptualizing and Measuring Philanthropy. Evidence from Serbia” won best conference paper award at the 9th ERNOP International Conference held in Basel 4-5 July 2019.


14. April
12:00 - 14:00