Presented by Professor Sally Power (Cardiff University)

This seminar will present a preliminary analysis of data from the WISERD Civil Society project on ‘Patronage, elites and power relations’. It explores the complex relationship between civil society, social inequality and nationhood through examining the motivations of elite members of Welsh society as they seek to volunteer as trustees and patrons of a wide range of Welsh charities. We interviewed nearly 60 trustees, all of whom enjoy(ed) successful and influential careers in business, politics or public service. Their narratives reveal diverse motivations, but prominent within them is the desire to ‘give something back’, and not just to society in general but to Wales in particular.  While their desire to ‘give back’ reflects an awareness of their own privileged position, their commitment to Wales can be seen as a response to the country’s historic and current dominance by England, as well as a legacy of non-conformism and community. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of these narratives for understanding the specificities of ‘geographies of responsibility’, civil society and nationhood.

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