CES Visiting Scholar and John F. Kennedy Fellow Sebastian Koos will present findings of his research project that analyzes the institutional and organizational structures of giving money, time, human blood and organs in a comparative perspective.
Despite developed market economies and welfare states, poverty remains a pivotal social problem to most European societies. Where markets and welfare states fail to provide sufficient income to the needy, private help by individuals and non-profit organizations constitute a final mechanism of inclusion. Helping people in need by providing goods or services is a prime example of altruistic behavior, the explanation of which has long puzzled scholars from different disciplines. Existing research has focused extensively on actor centered explanations, like psychological dispositions, resources and beliefs, in explaining altruistic giving. Such microscopic focus, however, neglects the institutions and organizations that evoke and shape giving practices. Sparked by large country differences in donations and volunteering of money and time, I propose an institutional perspective on the explanation of different types of helping, distinguishing between organized giving through charities versus informal giving on the streets. I argue that the prevalence of both practices can best be explained by their institutional roots in different historically grown arrangements of non-profit sectors and welfare states. The complementarity between these institutional domains across Europe has provided varying conditions for the different types of private giving to emerge. These claims are tested empirically by using data of a Eurobarometer survey from 2009 that allows distinguishing between different types of helping the poor.
About the speakerSebastian Koos is Assistant Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility at the Department of Politics and Public Administration of the University of Konstanz, Germany, and serves as an external fellow at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research, University of Mannheim, Germany. His research focuses on sustainable and political consumerism, CSR, employment relations, the moral economy of capitalism, and pro-social behavior. Currently Koos is a John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow at the CES, working on a project studying the varieties of gift economies across Europe. The project analyzes the institutional and organizational structures of giving money, time, human blood and organs in a comparative perspective. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Mannheim studying consumer and corporate responsibility across Europe. Koos serves as Chair of the Economic Sociology Research Network of the European Sociological Association based in Paris.