Welfare Restructuring and Philanthropic Elites. the Case of Milano

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Lavinia BIFULCO, Department of Sociology, University of Milano Bicocca, Italy
Paola ARRIGONI, University of Torino, Italy
The paper focuses on the relationship between welfare and philanthropic elites to unravel the logic of mutual changes in the more general picture of current transformations of welfare states. The hypothesis is that nowadays elites find important devices and mechanisms for reproduction of power in the reorganization of welfare. In the first part of paper we explore the key issues related to the spread of neo-philanthropic principles and mechanisms in the European welfare state. Developed in the context of the Anglo-American neo-liberalism, neo-philanthropy has variously taken hold in the perspectives of reorganization of the welfare based on marketization and public-private mix. In the second part we focus on the relationship between elites and philanthropy and, in particular, on the role played by elites as sponsors and policy-makers, analyzing the implications of this role for welfare policies and services as well as for the elites power reproduction. In the third part we present the first results of a case study on Milan, in Italy, trying to identify trends in the interweaving between evolution of local welfare and philanthropy.  The research, just started, should include at a later stage the comparison with another European city. Milano has been often called a “heart in hand city” to underline its long lasting philanthropic vocation. Beyond rethorics, our mail question is: how do discourses  and practices of milanese philantropic elites influence local welfare agenda? Empirical research – carry out through main databases analysis and in-depth interviews to members of elites, typologically selected in relation to key characteristics of philanthropic organizations – aims to identify: the “Bourdieusian” field of philanthropic elites (main actors, networks, power distribution); its connections to other fields; the logic of action and discourses underlying philanthropic practices; the way in which philanthropic elites  affect city policy agenda and decision-making.