The Common Good: Tracing Gift-giving Practices and Concepts at the Intersection Between State, Market and Civil Society

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    At present voluntary and philanthropic organisations are experiencing significant public attention and academic discussions about their role in society. Central to the debate is on one side the question of how they contribute to “the common good”, and on the other the question of how they can avoid being "polluted" by the state and market logic and maintain their distinctness rooted in civil society´s values and logics. Through a historical case analysis of the Egmont Foundation from Denmark (a corporate philanthropic foundation from 1920), the paper shows how concrete gift-giving practices and concepts continuously over time have blurred the different sectors and “polluted” contemporary definitions of the “common good”. The analysis shows that “the common good” is not an autonomous concept owned or developed by specific spheres of society. The analysis stresses that historically, “the common good” has always been a contested concept. It is established through messy and blurred heterogeneity of knowledge, purposes and goal achievements originating from a multitude of scientific, religious, political and civil society spheres contested not only in terms of words and definitions but also through concrete practices of gift-giving.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2015
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    Event40th Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association: Pluralism and Community: Social Science History Perspectives - Baltimore, MD, United States
    Duration: 12 Nov 201515 Nov 2015
    Conference number: 40


    Conference40th Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityBaltimore, MD
    Internet address

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