Public and Private in an era of Entrepreneurial Philanthropy: Exploring John Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems (1927/2016) to (re)conceptualize philanthropy as a public

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In debates about the role(s) and scale of entrepreneurial philanthropy in democracies, scholars discuss the erosion of distinctive public and private spheres and interests, and the replacement of the public sphere. This has occurred at the expense of public deliberation and participation, in favor of the reification of individuals and the role of experts/expertise. Drawing upon John Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems (1927/2016), I argue that there is an eclipse of the publicity of the public. This informs my case for the (re)conceptualization of philanthropy as a public, characterized by (a) the philanthropist as a social rather than an atomistic being, (b) the philanthropy-state dynamic and the publics’ claims, and (c) part of the radical vision of philanthropy. To ensure that private and public have analytical and practical resonance, it is imperative to (re)frame and (re)conceptualize what these concepts mean to entrepreneurial philanthropy and for its role in democracies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Early online date28 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Nov 2023

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