How can Charity be Reimagined to Contribute Toward a More Just Society

How can Charity be Reimagined to Contribute Toward a More Just Society

GCPH Seminar Series 19: lecture 1 | How can charity be reimagined to contribute toward a more just society?


Cameron Parsell Professor of the Social Sciences
The University of Queensland, Australia


Andrew Clarke
Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy The University of New South Wales, Australia

Wednesday 7th September 2022, 10.00 – 11.30 GMT via Zoom

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Delivering services, undertaking research, influencing policy and public campaigns are some of the measures used by charities in Scotland to tackle poverty. In such challenging times, are these measures sufficient to disrupt the underlying causes of poverty?

Drawing upon their timely book ‘The Role of Charity and Poverty in Advanced Welfare States’, Andrew and Cameron will pose critical questions in this seminar about the value and role of charity in contemporary society. Charity, in the form of voluntarily giving one’s time and resources to care for and support people, is unambiguously seen as an individual virtue and a sign of a flourishing and caring society. Voluntary support and ground up action can represent a social good and direct benefit to people receiving help. These charitable acts, however, can let governments off the hook, can benefit the giver more than the receiver, and can divert attention and momentum from the structural change required to prevent poverty.

The speakers will seek to both identify the limitations of charity to people in receipt of it and outline how it can be a source of significant social good through facilitating systematic transformation to contribute towards a more just society.

The presentation will be followed by a panel response and discussion chaired by Prof Morag Treanor, Professor of Child and Family Inequalities and Deputy Director of I-SPHERE at Heriot-Watt University. She will be joined on the panel by Tressa Burke, CEO of Glasgow Disability Alliance; Peter Kelly, Director of The Poverty Alliance; Alison Watson, Director of Shelter Scotland; and Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of SCVO.

Cameron Parsell is Professor of the Social Sciences at The University of Queensland, Australia. He is the author of ‘The Homeless Person in Con-temporary Society and Charity’ and co-author of ‘Poverty in Advanced Welfare States’. His research focuses on understanding the experience of poverty and what societies do to address it. With an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, Cameron’s recent work examines charity and the Australian welfare state, with an aim of improving both.

Andrew Clarke is Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at The University of New South Wales, Sydney. Andrew researches a variety of topics including housing insecurity and homelessness, social housing provision, urban governance, and the role of charity in contemporary welfare systems. He is co-author of ‘Poverty in Advanced Welfare States’ with Cameron Parsell and Francisco Perales. Andrew’s current work includes projects investigating life on the social housing waitlist and the state of homelessness in Australia.

If you would like to follow or contribute to the seminar on Twitter, please use the hashtag #GCPHSem19.

Jamie Langstone