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Symposium & Workshop: The Law of Giving

Call for Papers

Symposium and Workshop June 25-27, 2024

In Person (online participation also available)

University of Windsor (Ontario, Canada)

The Law of Giving:

An Interdisciplinary Inquiry into the Ecosystem and Legal Implications of Crowdfunding and Personal Donation Platforms

Deadline to submit abstract for paper:

Extended deadline – February 26 (3:00 pm EST)

Funding may be available for travel and accommodation

Submit abstracts here.

We invite submissions from scholars in a broad range of disciplines, and encourage submissions from Junior Faculty, Post-Doctoral Students and Ph.D. Students Limited funding may be available for selected participants to cover travel and accommodation costs.

Submit your abstract (between 500 and 1000 words) by February 26, 2024 (3:00 pm EST)

Responses and invitations to be issued by March 15, 2024.

Confirmed Speakers include:

Our confirmed speakers include Dr. Mariana Valverde, Professor at the University of Toronto, Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, who will present her research about Universities, Philanthropy and Infrastructures, and Dr. Greg Elmer, Professor and Bell Globe media Research Chair in Professional Communication at the Toronto Metropolitan University, who will present his work on a series of political crowdfunding studies conducted between 2018-2022.

Dr. Mariana Valverde Professor at the University of Toronto Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies

Dr. Greg Elmer Professor and Bell Globe media Research Chair in Professional Communication at the Toronto Metropolitan University

Symposium & Workshop Synopsis

Crowdfunding and personal donation platforms raise a constellation of issues that have garnered relatively little attention. Donation platforms such as GoFundMe or KickStarter operate multi-million-dollar businesses. This reality, alongside the several multimedia tactics that are deployed to seduce potential donors may not be transparent to them. In addition, personal donors’ data can be highly sensitive information when it relates to political affiliations, religious beliefs, or is connected to oppressed minority groups at the local level or through foreign governments or organizations. And yet, organizations that initiate and benefit from donation campaigns may not be subject to the personal data protection laws when such laws apply to commercial activities only. When leaked or made accessible to government authorities or employers, personal donations can lead to drastic measures including law enforcement freezing of bank accounts, or loss of employment. As such, personal donations raise fundamental human rights issues, the regulation of which deserves particular attention and scrutiny. More broadly, the political, economic, and cultural impact of crowdfunding and personal donation platforms invites a deeper critical and interdisciplinary engagement.

The Symposium aims to bring together scholars from diverse disciplines, including law, communication and media studies, sociology, anthropology, economics, business, and political science, to reflect on the multifaceted dynamics of crowdfunding and personal donation platforms and practices shaped by an evolving ecosystem of platforms, devices, data collection practices, political climates, social norms, fundraiser needs, donor motivations, and regulatory frameworks. Zones of inquiry include the following:

  • What incites personal donors to give, and what are their perceptions with respect to ventures, causes, political movements calling for fundraising?

  • What is the personal donor in law? (i.e. the nature of the transactions performed, privacy and personal data implications, legal protections against deception and fraud, tax treatment incentives, among other considerations).

  • When does a personal donor become an investor?

  • How are communication, social media, digital platforms (GoFundMe, Kickstarter, etc..) impacting personal donations both from the perspective of fundraisers and personal donors?

  • What are the social dynamics and cultural factors that influence the success of crowdfunding campaigns?

  • What types of industries (creative, cultural, educational, healthcare etc.) or causes (humanitarian, emergency relief, political, etc.) resort to personal donations and what are considerations specific to each of those industries or causes?

  • What are the opportunities and pitfalls for inventors and start-up companies resorting to crowdfunding and online donation platforms to subsidize the development of their new technology or product?

  • What are the narratives, tools, methods deployed by fundraisers? When are such narratives justifiable and laudable, and when are they deceptive, misleading, or fraudulent?

  • What is the level of accountability and transparency to which fundraisers, digital donation platforms and other intermediaries are or should be subject to?

  • Is there a need for greater protection of donors’ good will and more generally of the public?

  • How do governments support some fundraisers (e.g. tax breaks, interests in charity reliance, etc.) and ban others? (e.g. security surveillance, banking and finance regulation, criminal sanctions)

  • ·What should the extent of state control be over eligible causes for tax purposes and proscribed ones?

  • What are the human rights implications (e.g. potential discrimination, constraints on right of association, liberty) of such government regulations?

The Symposium and Workshop’s main goal is to further develop a research agenda in this area of study through the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach, gathering researchers across different disciplines and with different perspectives to address these challenging and critical questions.

The selected participants will be invited to contribute to a book project / collection of essays to be published in a leading academic journal/press.

Submit abstracts here.

Conference organizers:

Pascale Chapdelaine, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law University of Windsor

Vincent Manzerolle, Associate Professor, Undergraduate Program Chair,

Department of Communication, Media & Film, University of Windsor


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