Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-8-2020


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Craig T. Maier


Philanthropy, Philanthrocapitalism, Corporate Social Responsibility, Communication, Corporate Communication, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


In today’s global marketplace, the Aristotelian notion of philanthrôpía manifests in myriad terms and meanings: corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, social entrepreneurship, venture capitalism and philanthrocapitalism, to name a few. Now, nonprofit organizations and foundations are building on the social and financial capital of successful business titans, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and others, to address ongoing and growing social issues of health, education, and poverty worldwide. This dissertation will explore the question: Is philanthrocapitalism the next paradigm to elevate global corporate social responsibility efforts? To answer this question, I draw on Jürgen Habermas’s theory of communicative action and undertake a constructive hermeneutic approach grounded in a textured understanding of philanthrocapitalism. Finally, I provide a case study analysis through the lens of Judith Butler’s work on performative agency that explores the history, strategic mission, and diverse programming initiatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As the exemplar of philanthrocapitalism in action, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation endeavors to reduce inequity and generate sustainable positive social change without endangering global democracy and cultures.