Civil Society and Institutional Philanthropy

William A. Schambra and Krista L. Shaffer

in The Oxford Handbook of Civil Society

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195398571
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Civil Society and Institutional Philanthropy

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This article examines the relation between civil society and institutional philanthropy. It explains that institutional philanthropy is an outgrowth of civil society, yet it behaves as if it were somehow ashamed of its civil society origins. It discusses the rise of the so-called scientific philanthropy and comments on Alexis de Tocqueville's view on decentralized administration and local voluntary associations as contained in his book Democracy in America. It argues that if institutional philanthropy is interested in a unique and immensely powerful role in American public life, it should stop denigrating civil society associations and attend to the alarming deficits in democratic engagement that it had a hand in producing.

Keywords: civil society; institutional philanthropy; scientific philanthropy; Alexis de Tocqueville; decentralized administration; local voluntary associations; Democracy in America; public life; democratic engagement

Article.  5558 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Public Policy ; Public Administration

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