Pragmatism, partnerships, persuasion: theorizing philanthropic foundations in the global policy agora

Janis Thomas Petzinger*, Tobias Jung, Kevin Orr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Foundations are one of the oldest organizational forms globally; their number and resources, as well as their socio-political and economic importance, have steadily continued to grow. Yet, foundations’ attributes, activities, and actual achievements remain underexplored and poorly understood. This is particularly noticeable in the context of global policy and transnational administration, an area where foundations tend to be subliminal players, acting as a widely unrecognized socio-political undercurrent. Addressing the resulting need for better and alternative conceptualizations of foundations, our paper uses French pragmatic sociology of critique (FPSC), a non-structuralist, post-Bourdesian, approach to sociology, to theorize philanthropic foundations within the policy agora. Through FPSC, we present foundations as a composite setup of activity, where critically reflexive actors bring normative ideologies and knowledge to policy, providing a new avenue for how scholarship can interpret and critique foundations and their influence.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberpuad016
Number of pages13
JournalPolicy and Society
VolumeAdvance Article
Early online date3 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2023


  • Philanthropy
  • Pragmatic sociology
  • Global policy
  • Transnational administration
  • AGRA


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