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Exploring the wish factory : ethnographic insights into the charitable business of wish granting

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Exploring the wish factory : ethnographic insights into the charitable business of wish granting

Deschênes, Jonathan (2009) Exploring the wish factory : ethnographic insights into the charitable business of wish granting. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

In the last decade or so, the number of charitable organizations that offer various activities and programs dedicated specifically to "light up" the life of ill children through the granting of wishes has grown by leaps and bounds. In parallel, dozens-if not hundreds-of companies in various industries are collaborating with these charities through sponsorship and partnership programs. With their help, wish granting organizations now raise impressive sums of money and fulfill the wishes of children throughout the world. Despite the importance of this major social and economic phenomenon, little research exists to date, that documents and reflects upon it. I studied this phenomenon by asking the following question: How can we conceptualize and understand ill children's wish granting and its impact on and relationship among the various actors, as they are deployed throughout the process? To do so, I used an 8-month full-time ethnographic fieldwork (complemented by 2 years of sporadic data collection) to immerse myself in the world of the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada. The Foundation grants approximately 1,000 wishes Canada-wide per year and granted its 15,000 th wish in the summer of 2oo9. This dissertation explores the phenomenon mainly from the perspective of Actor-Network Theory , as proposed by Bruno Latour (2005). It investigates which I call the Wish Factory through an in-depth analysis of the wish granting process (how wishes come to be developed), the actual fulfillment of the wishes, and finally the wish's after-life. Reflections on the relationship between charities, beneficiaries and the marketplace are woven into the analysis. The Wish Factory manifests itself as a process that engages a large and diversified network of actors, all involved in the creation of an extraordinary event for families facing the turmoil of childhood illness. In creating the extraordinary wish, the actors (principally the beneficiary families, the charity and the marketplace) must deal with tensions arising from the opposing forces of the unique and the plain commercial. The notion of regimes of value (Appadurai, 1986) is proposed as a way to explain how such tensions are resolved at the micro and macro levels.

Divisions:Concordia University > John Molson School of Business
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Deschênes, Jonathan
Pagination:xv, 576 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph.D.
Program:John Molson School of Business
Date:2009
Thesis Supervisor(s):Joy, A
ID Code:976614
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:29
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:42
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