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Contesting Communities: The Transformation of Workplace Charity

Contesting Communities: The Transformation of Workplace Charity

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"Barman provides novel commentary on the changing nature and meaning of philanthropy and community, as well as the impact of corporate gatekeepers thereon. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in voluntarism, philanthropy, social capital, and organizational behavior."
—Jason Kaufman, Harvard University

"Given the broad contemporary interest in philanthropy and voluntarism, Emily Barman's book on the United Way and the emergence of alternative fundraising organizations as competitors to the United Way is especially timely. Barman's incisive investigation of the increasingly competitive environment of workplace charity is a major contribution to our understanding of the social, political, and economic changes underway in local communities throughout the United States."
—Steven Rathgeb Smith, University of Washington

Is "community" in America in decline? If so, does this mean that charitable giving in the United States is also in decline? In this innovative and original work, Emily Barman offers new insights into this important issue. Analyzing workplace charity in different cities across the United States, Contesting Communities shows that while traditional notions of community might be in decline, new types and visions of community have emerged. Barman traces how these different "communities" take the form of organizational competition between the United Way and new alternative fundraisers over workplace contributions. Deftly blending sociological theory of organizations with archival research, interviews with nonprofit leaders, and original survey data, Contesting Communities ultimately shows that the meaning of community occurs almost incidentally to the wishes of those who give and the needs of those who receive.