Ilana F. Silber, Ph.D.

Ilana F. Silber is Associate Professor at the Department Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. She received her Ph.D. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her major fields of research are the sociology of gift-giving, charity and philanthropy, to which she also brings a cross cutting engagement with comparative historical, interpretative cultural analysis and sociological theory.

She has a special interest in current elite philanthropy and related organizational and cultural developments, as well as the commonalities and differences between religious and non-religious forms of giving in both past and present contexts. Theoretically, she is interested in furthering more dialogue between neo-Maussian approaches to the gift, various strands of American cultural sociology, French pragmatic sociology, and research on contemporary forms of generosity. Empirically, she has studied the recent emergence of a field of elite philanthropy in Israel, and brought into relief the need to pay attention not only to positive but also negative moral and emotions— such as, in particular, “civic anger,” in the study of generosity.

Her most relevant publications include: “The Angry Gift: A Neglected Facet of Philanthropy,” Current Sociology 60, 3 (2012); “Emotions as Regime of Justification? The Case of Philanthropic Civic Anger,” European Journal of Social Theory 14, 3 (2011): 301-320; “Mauss, Weber et les trajectoires historiques du don,” Revue du M.A.U.S.S. 36 (2010); “Bourdieu’s Gift to Gift Theory: An Unacknowledged Trajectory,” Sociological Theory 27, 2 (2009); “Pragmatic Sociology as Cultural Sociology: Beyond Repertoire Theory?” European Journal of Social Theory 6 (2003); “Beyond Purity and Danger: Gift-Giving in the Monotheistic Religions,” in Toon Vandevelde (ed.), Gifts and Interests (Louvain: Peeters, 2000); “Modern Philanthropy: Reassessing the Viability of a Maussian Perspective,” in Nick Allen and Wendy James, eds. Marcel Mauss Today (Oxford, New York: Berghahn, 1998); Religious Virtuosity, Charisma and Social Order: A Comparative Sociological Study of Monasticism in Theravada Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.


Key topics:      Gift research and theory; Elite philanthropy; Philanthropy as institutional field; Comparative historical and cultural sociological approaches to gift and philanthropy.




Google Scholar:


Current position

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Previous positions

Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University.

Visiting Research Positions

Institute of Advanced Studies, Hebrew University;

Department of Anthropology, Harvard University;

Department of Sociology, Princeton University;

Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University.

Relevant Additional Affiliations

Associate Fellow, Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University;

Member of the M.A.U.S.S. (Mouvement anti-utilitarien en sciences sociales), and the convivialist movement (;

Member, European Research Network of Philanthropy (ERNOP);

Member of the editorial board, the (new) Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Economics, History and Political Science.


Religious Virtuosity and Social Order in Theravada Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism: A Comparative Sociological Perspective. Hebrew University.

Supervisors: S.N. Eisenstadt and R.J.Z. Werblowsky

Research productivity

40 scientific publications


Google Scholar: 613 ; h-index 12; i10-index 13