Two authors of some hot-topic books in philanthropy commence a mutual book review and Q/A between each other; neither author has met, but they run the gamut of interesting topics.
"McGoey: As an opening gambit, HistPhil asked us to reflect on things that we found most compelling or challenging about each other’s recent books. I don’t want this first comment to seem like an exercise in ‘disciplinary jingoism,’ but one thing I found fascinating is the way our shared background as sociologists framed our analyses. We have never met in person. We only got to know each other’s work in the past year. But I had a nice feeling of familiarity when reading your book, in that rightly or wrongly I sensed we’re both immersed in a discipline that we find equally inspiring and restrictive. When it comes to understanding philanthropy, sociology as an academic discipline seems to mirror the conventional attitudes the many members of the public have. Philanthropy is either benignly accepted as something inherently good, or it’s vilified as an obviously underhanded act, used to consolidate personal or institutional power. Both of us were trying to distance ourselves from either extreme, but I think your book is more successful at showing the limits of sociological critiques that fall in the second camp. You convincingly imply that Marxist and post-Marxist analyses are insufficient for analysing philanthropic power today. In other words, although you acknowledge Gramsci’s importance, you also confront the post-Gramscian literature on philanthropy and point out its inadequacies for understanding negotiations that take place between social actors vying to achieve separate goals.
"Your book is one of the first major sociological studies of US domestic philanthropy during the late to post-Cold War era. It succeeds at a difficult task: to illuminate power asymmetries and patterns of economic exploitation without relying on post-Marxist tropes such as hegemony. At this same time, I don’t think either of us has yet developed a strong alternative, non-Marxist framework for making forms of philanthropic disempowerment easily comprehensible to a broad audience. Should this be the goal? If so, how do we achieve it? Which aspects of our books come closest to that goal?"--Linsey McGoey and Erica Kohl-Arenas, HistPhil