The angry gift: A neglected facet of philanthropy

Ilana F. Silber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Research on elite philanthropy has discussed a rich range of motivations and interests to help explain why individuals of great wealth might be inclined to engage in philanthropic giving. In such context, however, little attention has been paid to anger. Drawing upon interviews with a sample of 26 Israeli philanthropic mega-donors, this article highlights a distinctive cluster of negative and critical emotions - called here 'civic anger' - found to target the state and politics in particular, and possibly help account for a growing engagement with philanthropic giving among the very wealthy in the context of Israel. Donors' civic anger is then discussed as a context-bound moral and political emotion, characterizing donors' understanding of philanthropy as a highly personal and reflexive option, but also shaped and facilitated by a specific configuration of macro-institutional and cultural conditions. As such, it also underscores the need for further comparative exploration of the varying moral and emotional tenor of elite philanthropy as an expanding mode of public action in contemporary civil societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-337
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is based on qualitative field research supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 4617).


  • Anger
  • Israeli philanthropy
  • anti-politics
  • elite philanthropy
  • mega-donors
  • negative moral emotions
  • political emotions


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