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Re-Focusing on Philanthropy: Revising and Re-Orienting the Standard Model

126 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2011  

Rob Atkinson Jr.

Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: September 8, 2011


This paper undertakes a detailed analysis of today’s standard theory of the philanthropic sector, in order to provide a new model that is both more accurate in its details and more comprehensive in its scope. The standard theory accounts for the philanthropic sector as subordinate and supplementary to our capitalist market economy and liberal democratic polity. That approach has two basic short-comings: Its explanation of both the state and philanthropy as adjuncts to the market fails to appreciate the ways in which all three sectors support and supplement each other. Even more basically, the standard model’s primary focus on the market ignores how the demands that we make on both the state and the market ultimately derive from value systems the philanthropic sector not only gives us, but also shapes us to accept. From this perspective, the philanthropic sector functions, not as an adjunct to the state and the market, under their standards of consumer demand and majority preference, but rather as both their foundation and their metric.

Suggested Citation

Atkinson, Rob, Re-Focusing on Philanthropy: Revising and Re-Orienting the Standard Model (September 8, 2011). FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 540. Available at SSRN: or

Rob E. Atkinson Jr. (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States
850-644-4503 (Phone)

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