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Austerity, Community Action, and the Future of Citizenship$
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Shana Cohen, Christina Fuhr, and Jan-Jonathan Bock

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781447331032

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447331032.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

The new economy of poverty

The new economy of poverty

(p.197) Twelve The new economy of poverty
Austerity, Community Action, and the Future of Citizenship

Stefan Selke

Policy Press

This chapter reflects the consequences of an established system of poverty relief: German foodbanks (Tafeln), which meanwhile have become part of the basic food supply of many citizens. Even if Tafeln consider themselves as a social movement they more and more appear as moral enterprises. This requires the analysis of the fundamental mechanisms within the economy of poverty, such as the commercialization of morals and the corresponding corruption of values. German foodbanks predominantly find their resonance in the system of economy. On the basis of reliable relationships to their moral clients, foodbanks are supplied with goods, equipment and services. The product they offer in return is a moral profit in the form of a positive image, which is useful in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility activities. As a social enterprise foodbanks imitate and emulate the prevailing economic rationality on every level from local practices to long-term strategies. This encompasses aspects such as differentiation of their range of products, securing the availability of their supply, quality management, professionalization as well as the efficiency enhancement. With their trademark protection and branding as Tafel, German foodbanks have emerged as monopolists on the market of pity, driving off other projects according to the logic of competition. The chapter comes to the conclusion that we have arrived in a society of spectacles in which it is becoming easier to receive public approval for symbolic poverty relief than it is to establish political legitimacy through sustainable fight for poverty reduction.

Keywords:   Foodbanks, trademark, moral enterprise, fictious commodity, corporate social responsibility

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