Entrepreneurial philanthropy and poverty alleviation: longitudinal research
Poverty is one of the wicked problems of the world. It is complex, continuous and has no clear solution [Wallis and Wright 2019, 1265]. This complexity stems from the fact that poverty is, and has been throughout history, a very dynamic non constant multidimensional occurrence on an individual and group level with variation in breadth and persistence [Vandecasteele & Giesselmann 2018, 8; Fouarge & Layte 2005, 407; Oosterlynck et al. 2019, 6; Millar 2007, 533; Dercon & Shapiro 2007, 78; Alkire et al. 2017, 1003; Hulme & McKay 2013, 187; Leisering & Leibfried 2001, 8; Scott 2016, 3-4, 14]. Although eradicating poverty is one of the most predominant social goals of the European Union, in nearly all the EU members it remains unsolved. The trends of poverty alleviation in the EU are unsatisfactory [Cantillon 2019, 56; Cantillon, Marchal & Luigjes 2017, 240, 251; Leisering & Leibfried 2001, 3]. The current measurements of income protection in the EU are not efficient enough to diminish poverty. The level of minimal financial protection is insufficient. Welfare states in Europe fail in minimising income poverty in spite of positive economic trends [Cantillon & Van Mechelen 2014, 270, 286; Cantillon, Marchal & Luigjes 2017, 240]. As a consequence of all of the above, there are fundamental issues related to poverty, which the EU is incapable of coping with efficiently [Cantillon, Marchal & Luigjes 2017, 252].
Addressing poverty can be made by means of empowering the ones in need, thus making sure their social needs are properly fulfilled. Empowerment mechanisms can be top down or bottom up, individual or collective and instrumental or expressive [Oosterlynck et al., 2019, 6]. In addition, in order to be able to create opportunities for poverty alleviation, a cooperation between different actors for optimal utilisation of instruments and resources is vital. In the EU, there is a need for more horizontal and vertical solidarity of agencies and instruments [Oosterlynck et al. 2019, 9; Cantillon 2019, 56, 58; Cantillon & Van Mechelen 2014, 270].
While these solutions can be seen as appropriate at first glance, being logical and comprehensive, in practice they are most probably being translated by policy makers into drawer plans since they lack feasibility and are not practical enough. Furthermore, operationalising the above mentioned solutions into action plans requires cooperation on multiple scales and a holistic vision by decision makers. In reality, the latter usually focus on short term goals and shy away from the required multifaceted, complex solutions which are fundamental in order to improve this long lasting, wicked social challenge.
Qualitative, longitudinal clarifications for the evolution of poverty and welfare are scarce [Taylor 2008, 47; Millar 2007, 533; Lees 1998, 9]. A case study of a specific location with a long history of poor relief legislation, such as hundreds of years, can lead to a better understanding on the interrelation between social changes and poor relief policy. Conducting research on such legislation can make it possible to examine the social rights and duties of the givers and receivers time and again. In addition, it can enable a closer look at the decisions regarding resource distribution, manners in which these decisions challenged the capabilities of the community, and the measure of inequality the latter was willing to indulge. Moreover, conducting research focusing on a long term case study can enable deepening our knowledge on developments related to mass migration and urbanisation and the manners in which they affected poor relief institutions [Lees 1998, 9, 11]. This knowledge could then in turn assist the policy makers to target populations more susceptible to poverty, to come up with preventive schemes and compose preventive actions to eliminate poverty and social exclusion [Vandecasteele & Giesselmann 2018, 3, 5; Vaalavuo 2015, 7].
The current research will be focused on a specific, longitudinal, comparative case study of over 200 years, and the symbiotic relationship between entrepreneurial philanthropy, legislation regarding poverty alleviation and multiple levels of socio-economic and political factors. The research will help in improving our understanding of collective agencies for poverty alleviation, and how they promoted laws and regulations regarding housing, health and education for the ones in need during this period. The specific case study chosen is a small, quite secluded community with a high degree of solidarity, two thousand years old tradition of written laws and regulations, which experienced migration waves of many poor people in the 17th-19th century. Using archival sources will enable a thorough investigation of common threads, as well as answering questions such as: What is the possible influence of the Jewish poverty alleviation initiatives in the 17th-19th centuries on the social policy of the modern Dutch welfare state?
Entrepreneurial philanthropy, poverty, welfare, longitudinal research, Jewish History, 17th-19th centuries, Holland
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Tine de Moor, Lucas Meijs, Rob van Tulder