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Charity’s dilemmas: an ethnography of gift-giving and social class in Croatia

Karin Doolan (University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia)
Dražen Cepić (University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia)
Jeremy F. Walton (Max-Planck-Institut zur Erforschung multireligiöser und multiethnischer Gesellschaften, Göttingen, Germany)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 18 October 2018

Issue publication date: 20 March 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore charitable giving and receiving as a site of social class interaction in Croatia today, particularly in relation to the country’s socialist past and capitalist present.


Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in three charity organisations in Croatia. The reported material is based on participant observation, interviews and informal conversations with organisation members, activists, employees and end users.


The authors find that charity activists and recipients of aid occupy distinct but overlapping moral economies in relation to questions of poverty, charity and the role of the state.


The authors develop a unique perspective on charitable giving and receiving in a context in which memories of socialism shape understandings of the role of the state today vis-à-vis poverty relief.



This work has been supported in part by the Croatian Science Foundation under the project number 3134.


Doolan, K., Cepić, D. and Walton, J.F. (2019), "Charity’s dilemmas: an ethnography of gift-giving and social class in Croatia", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 11-24.



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