Bristol Conversations in Education - Under the sheep skin: philanthrocapitalism and the privatisation of the so-called ‘democratic state’

21 November 2018, 12.00 PM - 21 November 2018, 1.00 PM

Dr. Antonio Olmedo

Room 4.10, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1JA

This event is part of the School of Education's 'Bristol Conversations in Education' seminar series.

Speaker: Dr. Antonio Olmedo

In 2008, in their “ode to philanthrocapitalism”, Bishop and Green claimed that ‘philanthrocapitalists are “hyperagents” who have the capacity to do some essential things far better than anyone else’. Apparently, the fact that ‘they do not face elections every few years, like politicians, or suffer the tyranny of shareholder demands for ever-increasing quarterly profits, like CEOs of most private companies’ or that they do not have ‘to devote vast amounts of time and resources to raising money, like most heads of NGOs’, situates them in a privileged position to ‘think long term’, ‘to go against conventional wisdom’, ‘to take up ideas too risky for government’ and ‘ to deploy substantial resources quickly when the situation demands it’. These new ‘super actors’ can solve the problems of the world, and do it fast, cleanly, and absolutely.Behind Bishop and Green’s philanthrocapitalim, and Bill Gates’ creative capitalism, and David Cameron’s Big Society, which are closely related conceptions, is a new relation of ‘giving’ and enacting policy. This relation is based on a more direct involvement of givers in policy communities, that is a more ‘hands on’ approach to the use of donations. In previous writings we have referred to this new political landscape as ‘philanthropic governance’, that is the ways in which, through their philanthropic action, these actors are able to modify meanings, mobilise assets, generate new policy technologies and exert pressure on, or even decide, the direction of policy in specific contexts.This seminar will problematise the discursive threads that underpin such efforts to modify existing forms of governance and reflect on their consequences upon contemporary ‘democratic’ societies.


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Emma Rossiter


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