Why social transformation is not a job for the market

Auteur: Michael Edwards, 26 January 2010

Oorspronkelijk gepubliceerd op OpenDemocracy’s Open Economy

In 2007, I experienced one of those fork-in-the-road moments that seem to occur when you least expect them. It was another day at the office, sifting through e-mails in the Ford Foundation’s glass palace in Manhattan, where I worked as one of the organization’s six directors. As usual, half of my inbox was filled by advertisements for books, conferences, and consultants promising to solve society’s problems by bringing the magic of the market to nonprofits and philanthropy — the masters of the universe, it seemed, also wanted to be saviors of the world — and the other half was filled by complaints from those experiencing the negative consequences of doing exactly that.

It suddenly struck me that this was more than a simple clash of cultures — it had potentially profound implications for the success of our efforts to transform the world in the image of love and justice. And in the rush to embrace new approaches to philanthropy, some very important older questions were in danger of being buried under hype and adulation — questions of deep social change and social transformation, of democracy versus plutocracy, and of people’s willingness to work together on common problems as full and equal citizens, not as clients or consumers. Continue reading