Edited by Marilyn L. Taylor, Robert J. Strom and David O. Renz
Chapter 9: Contemporary European E2P: towards an understanding of European philanthrepreneurs
Philanthropy by the established rich has existed since the Greek times in Europe. In the eras of antiquity, ‘doing good’ was common practice for those who had family fortunes. The succession of self-made European entrepreneurs who started to get involved in the redistribution of their wealth can be traced back to the early modern era. For example, in 1521 the Fuggerei, a social housing complex for the needy, was founded by the banker and businessman Jakob Fugger (Häberlein, 2012). From that period onwards, an increasing number of entrepreneurs became involved with charitable giving. However, most of these entrepreneurs became philanthropists just before they passed away, redistributing their wealth to the public good through the endowments they created. It was not until the late nineteenth century, with the industrial revolution, that a class of entrepreneurs arose who actively engaged in philanthropy during their lifetimes. This development had another boost around 1980, facilitated by neo-liberalist ideologies that have dominated the European socio-economic landscape since that time. Neo-liberalism has led to the rise of a large group of extremely wealthy individuals who earned their fortunes within their lifetimes. At the same time, this rise of neo-liberalism has created a growing gap between the wealthiest and the poorest people all over the globe (Krugman, 2009). This inequality has also become increasingly visible, motivating a growing number of successful entrepreneurs to engage in philanthropy.
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