Philanthropy in America: A History

Princeton University Press

"Marshaling his unmatched encyclopedic knowledge, Olivier Zunz has produced a masterful and comprehensive account of the power and influence of American philanthropy. His book places the subject into a larger societal and global framework, and will be of great interest to historians and social scientists working on the dynamics and ethos of modern capitalism, as well as to all individuals involved in the world of foundations and NGOs."--V.R. Berghahn, Columbia University

"Compelling and beautifully written, this narrative about the development of philanthropy from the nineteenth century through the present day bears the hallmark of rigorous scholarship and authoritative research. Showing how the diversity of givers and giving in America has advanced the nation's social, cultural, intellectual, and economic life, Zunz demonstrates that big money philanthropy and mass giving have left a uniquely democratic imprint on the country and set an example for philanthropic efforts around the world."--Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corporation of New York

"This beautifully crafted book, by master historian Olivier Zunz, transforms our understanding of American civil society. Zunz compellingly traces the often auspicious, yet sometimes troublesome relationships that bind government to philanthropy, money to responsibility, and charitable decisions to social reform and democratic performance. Anyone interested in U.S. politics and society will want to engage with this riveting narrative."--Ira Katznelson, Columbia University

"Can capitalism produce general social betterment? A history of the unique American experiment of using private wealth for the public good, this very important book demonstrates that the enlightened pursuit of self-interest enhances the commonweal. It also shows how the encounter between philanthropy and the state has, in the United States, created a nonprofit sector capable of addressing the most urgent claims for social justice. No other book provides a comprehensive account of philanthropy at this level of scholarly mastery."--Stanley Katz, Princeton University

"By illuminating the important history of America's vast not-for-profit sector, Zunz has made a major contribution to American historical scholarship. Zunz's work--sure to spark discussion--will be the place scholars and students go to begin any investigation of philanthropy in America."--James T. Kloppenberg, author of Reading Obama

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About the author

Olivier Zunz is the Commonwealth Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Why the American Century?, Making America Corporate, and The Changing Face of Inequality.
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Additional Information

Princeton University Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 2012
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Business & Economics / Nonprofit Organizations & Charities / General
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / United States / 20th Century
Social Science / Philanthropy & Charity
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En quelques décennies, de la fin du XIXe siècle aux années 1950, les États-Unis sont devenus un empire économique, une super-puissance politique et un modèle culturel. C'est l'histoire de cet essor spectaculaire, couronné par l'expression fameuse de "siècle américain", que retrace l'essai d'Olivier Zunz.
Le secret de cette performance inégalée tient à un dialogue précoce, et inédit entre chercheurs des grandes universités, hommes d'affaires imaginatifs et administrateurs éclairés des grandes fondations. L'auteur reconstitue la chronique et interroge le bilan de cette féconde collaboration. Il mesure ce que lui doivent l'émergence d'un système de consommation de masse et l'invention de l'"Américain moyen", figure emblématique des Temps modernes. Il décrit aussi les espérances un peu naïves, et bientôt déçues, que faisait naître l'expansion de l'Amérique nouvelle : le rêve d'une société apaisée, débarrassée des conflits de classe par la quête du bien-être matériel et la poursuite continuelle du bonheur individuel.
L'Amérique est bien devenue la grande puissance qu'avaient imaginée les visionnaires du siècle dernier. Mais elle n'a su éviter ni les fractures ni les déchirements qui allaient bientôt démentir l'optimisme généreux des architectes de sa réussite. Le siècle américain est l'enfant tout à la fois de leur génie et de leur imprévoyance.

Professeur à l'université de Virginie, Olivier Zunz est l'auteur de Naissance de l'Amérique industrielle (1983) et de L'Amérique en col blanc (1991).
The years following World War II saw a huge expansion of the middle classes in the world's industrialized nations, with a significant part of the working class becoming absorbed into the middle class. Although never explicitly formalized, it was as though a new social contract called for government, business, and labor to work together to ensure greater political freedom and more broadly shared economic prosperity. For the most part, they succeeded. In Social Contracts Under Stress, eighteen experts from seven countries examine this historic transformation and look ahead to assess how the middle class might fare in the face of slowing economic growth and increasing globalization.

The first section of the book focuses on the differing experiences of Germany, Britain, France, the United States, and Japan as they became middle-class societies. The British working classes, for example, were slowest to consider themselves middle class, while in Japan by the 1960s, most workers had abandoned working-class identity. The French remain more fragmented among various middle classes and resist one homogenous entity. Part II presents compelling evidence that the rise of a huge middle class was far from inclusive or free of social friction. Some contributors discuss how the social contract reinforced long-standing prejudices toward minorities and women. In the United States, Ira Katznelson writes, Southern politicians used measures that should have promoted equality, such as the GI bill, to exclude blacks from full access to opportunity. In her review of gender and family models, Chiara Saraceno finds that Mediterranean countries have mobilized the power of the state to maintain a division of labor between men and women. The final section examines what effect globalization might have on the middle class. Leonard Schoppa's careful analysis of the relevant data shows how globalization has pushed "less skilled workers down and more skilled workers up out of a middle class that had for a few decades been home to both." Although Europe has resisted the rise of inequality more effectively than the United States or Japan, several contributors wonder how long that resistance can last.

Social Contracts Under Stress argues convincingly that keeping the middle class open and inclusive in the face of current economic pressures will require a collective will extending across countries. This book provides an invaluable guide for assessing the issues that must be considered in such an effort.

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