Towards a Sociology of Moral Giving: Social Motivations and Functions of Acts of Donation

Eyigunlu M.

Sociology Lens, vol.36, no.4, pp.429-442, 2023 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 36 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/johs.12431
  • Journal Name: Sociology Lens
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.429-442
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This article proposes a theoretical approach to the sociology of moral giving. ‘Moral giving’ is a novel term introduced to cover acts of charity, philanthropy, and suchlike, both individual and as associated with donor institutions, such as family foundations and civil society organisations. A topic in moral philosophy for centuries, it has sociological aspects that have not been well studied. Inevitably, there is a complex range of functions motivating moral-giving actions, including the social ends (benefits, rewards, etc.) that motivate donors. Assuming not to distinguish between motive and function as (potential) drivers, this study presents an analysis of the social motivations of moral giving from an integrative perspective. First, a particularist approach is considered and a novel synthesis of the micro-macro dichotomy is outlined. Then, five major motivations or perspectives on moral giving are identified – those of religion, exchange relations, solidarity, rational choice, and social capital – and their micro/macro orientations and intersecting functions are briefly reviewed. An integrative model is thereby developed that incorporates mutually transitive relations between macro structures and micro agents and between the various social motives of moral giving.