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Title: Trust in Perpetuity: Legacies of Charity in a Storied Company Town
Authors: Kurie, Peter
Advisors: Boon, James A.
Greenhouse, Carol J.
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: American culture
community study
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation is based on one year of intensive ethnographic research across the core institutions of Hershey, Pennsylvania: a model industrial community, a chocolate company, a school for disadvantaged children, and an amusement park. My fieldwork with town residents, company employees, school administrators, alumni, and tourists explores the contested legacies of the Hershey Trust--heir to the Hershey chocolate fortune. I interpret the Trust as a forerunner of corporate philanthropy and discover emergent critiques of charity among ordinary Americans. The Hershey Trust is an outlier among U.S. charities. A de facto "industrial foundation," it has held controlling interest in the Hershey Company for nearly one hundred years-- making its beneficiary the wealthiest school of its kind in the country, with an estimated $8 billion endowment. This special fiduciary arrangement is the technical crux of the "Hershey Story," a modern American legend celebrating the link between doing good and consuming goods. Stakeholders in Hershey's institutions complicate the legend, subjecting the Trust to a kaleidoscopic array of ethical and practical judgments. My ethnography charts the Trust's legacies through semi-structured interviews focused on life stories in and around the company town; participant-observation in public events such as church sermons, school assemblies and leisure activities; close readings of journalistic accounts, court documents, broadcast media and advertising; and archival research in the company, school, and local township. It highlights knowledge and experience of Hershey's institutions across diverse contexts: personal and institutional memory, local history, religious life, schooling and recreation, regional political economy, state law, corporate finance and marketing, political activism, and popular culture. My principal finding is that the Trust plays a deeply paradoxical role: it is both facilitator and disruptor of everyday social and moral relations. Participants in the community, company, and school grapple with it as object of desire and agent of interference. Analyzing the ambivalent values of charity in the company town, I clarify the claims publics make--or abstain from making--on private foundations and corporations. A contribution to critical and public ethnography, the dissertation raises questions about the democratic implications of the big business of doing good.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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