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Non-Profit Industrial Complex: Between Market & State

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

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Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14
System Requirements:

You will need a reliable Internet connection as well as a computer or device with which you can access your virtual class. We recommend you arrive to class 5-10 minutes early to ensure you're able to set up your device and connection.

Class Delivery:

Classes will be held via Zoom.

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this philosophy class:

The Non-Profit Industrial Complex: Between the Market and the State

How exactly should we understand the layer of “non-profit” institutions that proliferate in many capitalist societies, existing somewhere between the formal worlds of business and government? What are the possibilities of such organizations, and how has philanthropy developed over the course of the 20th century to structure and shape them? What role do non-profits play in capitalist society? Today, in the 21st century, the “non-profit sector” is a large, heterogeneous field, consisting of groups engaged in efforts ranging from social services to culture dissemination, from hospitals to symphony orchestras, soup kitchens to environmental organizations. 

This sector has been called by many names: charitable organizations, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, the third sector, the independent sector, the social sector, social purpose organizations, and so on. However, a near ubiquitous constant is a belief in the common good and the importance of civic engagement. But what are we to make of the increasing intertwinement of non-profit, public, and business domains? Is it possible to conceive “doing good” as free of interest and independent from structural forces?

In this course, students will explore the fraught boundaries between the market, the state, and non-profit organizations. We will delve into the history, rise, and transformation of “religious, charitable, scientific, or educational” organizations, as per IRS classification, amid the shifts in welfare policies, governmental policy, and the growth of social inequality. 

We will consider the links between major philanthropic giving and political dissent to examine the role of the former in sometimes preventing and sometimes articulating protest and collective action. We will then scrutinize standard practices cultivated within contemporary non-profit organizations and how they shape service delivery, advocacy initiatives, and social movement strategies. Finally, we will assess the possibilities of redesigning and imaging the non-profit model as well as other avenues for social change. Throughout the course, we will ask: what actually is a non-profit organization? Is there a single non-profit culture? What is the connection between the apparently contradictory trends of rising numbers of non-profit organizations and the simultaneous rise of social ills? What is the relationship between the non-profit model and democracy? 

Can non-profits be seen as a sort of soft power? What is the place of non-profit organizations in the persistent inequalities between Global North and Global South? Is it possible to speak of a “non-profit industrial complex?” If so, what is the relevance of such a complex to both champions and critics of capitalism? Do the practices and, in particular, the funding incentives characteristic of the non-profit model affect the pace and scope of social justice initiatives? In addition to case studies and some campaigns, analyses by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Robert L. Allen, Annelise Riles, Margaret E. Keck & Kathryn Sikkink, among others, may be considered.

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

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Refund Policy

Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.

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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (27)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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