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Charities Aid Foundation's Giving Thought podcast explored the big issues, themes and news stories relating to philanthropy and the work of civil society. 

This podcast is no longer produced.


Feb 9, 2021

In this episode we explore mutual aid: what is it, why is there so much interest in it right now and how does it relate to charity and philanthropy? Including:

  • Defining the distinction between mutual aid and charity
  • William Beveridge’s thoughts on mutual aid
  • Peter Kropotkin and mutual aid as a fundamental element of human nature
  • How does mutual aid relate to notions of solidarity and class identity?
  • Why has mutual aid historically been so important for marginalised groups such as immigrant communities?
  • Medieval mutual aid: the guilds
  • Why did mutual aid become so prominent in the 19th century?
  • What were the Friendly Societies, why were they important and why are they no longer around?
  • How does mutual aid fit in with the post-WWII development of the voluntary sector?
  • Why has mutual aid become so prominent as an idea during the pandemic?
  • Is this a reflection of the unique circumstances of the pandemic or will it herald any longer-term changes in civil society?
  • Does the enthusiasm for mutual aid networks demonstrate an unmet appetite for greater participation in addressing social causes?
  • Is there a dark side to mutual aid? Can solidarity become exclusionary?
  • Will the growth of mutual aid come at the cost of more traditional charitable giving and volunteering?
  • Do mutual aid networks build social capital? If so, is it merely “bonding” social capital or also “bridging”?
  • What is the role of technology in making mutual aid networks possible?
  • What can we learn from other cultures of giving around the world in which mutual aid is much more prominent?



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