Abstract

Abstract:

This essay extends current analysis of the relationship between charity and capitalism by examining one charity's engagement with financial capitalism. The Salvation Army, established in 1878, transformed charity-run financial services from a welfare initiative into a model of ethical capitalism. Historical analysis addressing the relationship Christian confessions had with money has focused largely on the United Statesand studied the morals around managing money rather than its acquisition. Histories of finance and accounting, meanwhile, have concentrated on large commercial banks, while scholarship on smaller savings banks is still emergent (and much stronger on US banks). This essay is situated in the matrix of these scholarships to, first, demonstrate on a micro level how a charity could bring about social change by pioneering "ethical" financial services and, second, consider the macro implications of such attempts for understanding the challenges inherent in reforming capitalist practices and the paradoxical "capitalocentrism" of even those that sought to advance alternative economies.

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