Strategic ignorance and philanthrocapitalism

How does the private sector strategically use poor quality data for its own benefit? In this talk, Linsey McGoey discusses how weak evidence-based policy can paradoxically be a powerful tool in the political economy of global health.

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The growing role of philanthropic foundations

What makes a philanthropic gift a philanthropic gift? It is a question that has been at the heart of the social sciences for two centuries, as scholars from Mary Wollstonecraft and Thomas Paine onwards have grappled with the question of the comparative value of government welfare versus private charity.

Bill Gates leads the largest philanthropic foundation in global health

In recent years, the question of how philanthropic gifts are defined has taken on new urgency. A new generation of philanthropic donors have started to label their corporate activity ‘philanthropic’ even when their giving directly serves their personal business interests.

Weak data, an advantage for the private sector?

This talk explores what’s new and not new about the rise of philanthrocapitalism and its influence on global health in particular. In particular, I argue that the evidence-base attesting to the economic and social benefits of subsidizing private-sector actors to help realize global health goals is far weaker than proponents of public-private partnerships typically acknowledge.

My main point is that this weak evidence-based is useful for private stakeholders and for-profit companies, rather than a disadvantage. Drawing on the growing field of ‘ignorance studies,’ the talk concludes with a few general points about the usefulness of strategic ignorance to corporate actors in health.

About Linsey McGoey

Linsey McGoey, Associate Professor at the University of Essex

Linsey McGoey is an Associate Professor in social theory and economic sociology at the University of Essex. She is recognized for playing a pioneering role in the establishment of ignorance studies, an interdisciplinary field focused on exploring how strategic ignorance and the will to ignore have underpinned economic exchange and political domination throughout history.

She is author of No Such Thing as a Free Gift (Verso, 2015) and The Unknowers: How Strategic Ignorance Rules the World (Zed, forthcoming, 2019). She is a founding co-editor of the Routledge Research in Ignorance Studies book series, and core editorial board member at Economy and Society.

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On the seminar series "Global Health Unpacked"

“Global Health Unpacked” is a seminar series that aims to bring together the global health community on a regular basis to critically discuss key debates in Global Health in informal and interactive seminars. Guest speakers (both from the University of Oslo and from other universities) will bring an original perspective to the topic and engage in a conversation with the audience.

With this forum, we also hope to facilitate exchanges and collaborations between global health researchers and students present in Oslo and foster interdisciplinary research. “Global Health Unpacked” is jointly organized by the research group Power and Politics of Global Health, Centre for Development and the Environment and the UiO Centre for Global Health.

Published Apr. 11, 2019 4:26 PM - Last modified Apr. 12, 2019 10:37 AM