Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research

New Philanthropy and Social Justice: Debating the Conceptual and Policy Discourse

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research

New Philanthropy and Social Justice: Debating the Conceptual and Policy Discourse

Article excerpt

New Philanthropy and Social Justice: Debating the Conceptual and Policy Discourse. Edited by Behrooz Morvaridi. Bristol, UK: Policy Press at the University of Bristol / Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015, 176 pp. ISBN: 1447316983

Behrooz Morvaridi's edited volume, New Philanthropy and Social Justice: Debating the Conceptual and Policy Discourse, is a valuable addition to Policy Press' book series "Contemporary Issues in Social Policy: Challenges for Change." By addressing the issues associated with social justice and today's "new philanthropy"-the increasing involvement in philanthropy of corporations and foundations started by wealthy individuals- Morvaridi's edited volume provides invaluable critical and philosophical grounding to the debates on philanthropy, contributing meaningful dialogue regarding the challenges and potential of philanthropy for social transformation. The book is a critical look at the new philanthropy as part of the neoliberal strategy to fill in for state responsibility as social expenditure wanes, critiquing the notion that capitalists are better than traditional actors at doing philanthropic work. The essential argument of the essays that make up the book is that the migration of business principles into the non-profit sector, via claims that "what works for the market will work for social justice," is fundamentally flawed and inimical to the goals of meaningful social change.

Consisting of eleven essays, Morvaridi's volume is divided into three thematic sections. Part One, the "New Philanthropy and Social Transformation," includes four essays that set up the historical and philosophical framework for the debate. Hugh Cunningham's piece argues that "the welfare states of Europe in the second half of the 20th Century were the price capitalism paid for political survival" and that "philanthropy is the price that now needs to be paid to justify neoliberalism" (p. 38). This provides an illuminating perspective as it highlights the paradox of philanthropy as a necessary by-product of neoliberalism, casting capitalism as both cause and cure. The results of this paradox, as Michael Edward writes in the book's second essay, is that "philanthropy is losing whatever transformational potential it possessed" (p. 33) as its "definitions of the public good are appropriated by private interests" (p. 39). Philanthropy conducted via the mechanisms of capitalism, these introductory essays collectively argue, are the wrong tools to address social injustices, which are their by-product. Indeed, as Tom Parr emphasizes in Part One's final essay, our moral obligation to injustice is "not only to mitigate its harmful effects, but to tackle its underlying causes" (p. 68).

Part Two, "Philanthrocapitalism and the Process of Commodification," consists of two chapters and takes a practical view of market mechanisms' impact on specific issues. For example, George Holmes strongly questions the place of markets in providing or managing public goods. In particular, he questions whether or not some things, like biodiversity, should ever be commodified, while pointing out that others, like social justice issues, simply are not commodifiable, making them incompatible with a capitalist system based on commodities. The inseparability of so-called "philanthropic 'giving' and capitalistic accumulations" that is associated with philanthrocapitalism has, Sally Brooks argues, detrimentally "steered the debate away from socioeconomic concerns and towards technical ones," while recasting the aid recipient as a "consumer" (p. 102). The long-term outcome of this paradigm shift towards philanthrocapitalism, Brooks argues, is, in the end, unlikely to be "win-win." This section of the volume provides keen insights into the practical incompatibilities of capitalism with philanthropy and is extremely valuable to the debate. The section, however, would have been strengthened by the addition of another article to further develop the implications for philanthropy today. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.