University of Oulu

Philanthrocapitalism and games for change : an immanent critique of the development practices used in half the sky movement: the game

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Author: Vladimirova, Anna1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, )
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : A. Vladimirova, 2014
Publish Date: 2014-09-08
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Roberts, Gordon
Reviewer: Hyvönen, Pirkko
Roberts, Gordon
Panadero, Ernesto
As the philanthrocapitalistic movement is growing, Bishop and Green (2010) particularly emphasise the importance of digital activism in achieving the goals of philanthrocapitalism. Companies developing games for change emerge as one of the brightest embodiments of digital activism, it being a strategic area of philanthrocapitalism, a tool and an instrument of social change in the hands of businesses. “Investment in philanthropy for social impact” is rapidly employed as a motto by more and more game companies. Yet, few of them address ethical considerations of philanthropic giving and the type of transformations this giving is able to create. The goal of this study was to contribute to a critical discussion of philanthrocapitalism and games for change as its medium by challenging their focus on the neoliberal values and prioritization of procurement of capital over respect to people as well as questioning the implications of the games for change practices on the society. A nonprofit corporation Games for Change Inc. (G4C) and Half the Sky Movement: The Game (the HTSM game) were chosen as the central objects of this current research considering the philanthrocapitalistic foundations of G4C and its leading role in the world of gaming activism. One of the objectives was to approach the values and practices of the studied organisation from a critical standpoint by identifying the internal values of G4C, verbalized by its President, and possible interpretations of these values. Another objective was to investigate the attitudes of other stakeholders of the HTSM game towards practical application or violation of the openly affirmed standards. The study was conducted using Stahl and Kauppinen’s recognition approaches to the methodology of immanent critique, application of which allowed the critical interpretation and the linguistic analysis of the norms explicitly formulated by the President of G4C in the research interview. Concurrent observation of the attitudes of different partners in the context of the HTSM game practices enabled the illumination of possible inconsistencies between both the internal values and the reactions to the existing practices. This research demonstrated that implicit standards of G4C only partially reflect the variety of meanings and views present in the industry. In particular, discrepancies revolve around three main narratives: transparency and accountability, community involvement and development and human rights with a special focus on indirect discrimination. The tendency of the G4C leader to interpret values in economic, financial and quantitative fashion signified about inferiour position of other conceptualizations that exist in the network of the partner organisations and communities. As a result, misrecognition of stakeholders’ voices undermines the potential philanthrocapitalism to tackle the problems of the communities around the globe through the medium of games for change as it does not contribute to the establishment of a common goal. The analysis of the current research uncovered the transformative potential of G4C, with due consideration of which it has an opportunity of shaping its practices in accord with the diversity of views and attitudes. Realisation of the potential may enable G4C to contribute to the structural change of the societies.
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