Social Entrepreneurship as Fetish

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I am excited to pass along this article, “Social Entrepreneurship as Fetish,” by Fredrik Andersson. It is from our Summer 2011 edition of the Nonprofit Quarterly and I am here to tell you that it reflects the extraordinary quality of the rest of the issue. If you are not already a subscriber, best to do it right NOW! (It’s a special offer!)

I love this article.

Sometimes when I listen to political argumentation (I just cannot call it dialogue), it all seems like a stylized verbal dance with little substance. Everyone is displaying lots of plumage, however, apparently in an effort to demonstrate who they are ideologically, rather than achieving a reasonable and just outcome.

It’s not that I am against rhetoric – I am a big fan of it – but when an idea really is overblown fantasy (but sufficiently backed by money to create earthly vibrations, albeit sometimes temporary, to which we need to respond) it begins to cause vertigo and a lot of falling and flailing around before we get our bearings again.

We are not immune to such stuff in the nonprofit sector. There are times when the billing of a particular idea so far outstrips its reality and overbills its relative importance that the attention paid it becomes something akin to fetishism. Andersson poses the question: Does social entrepreneurism fall in that category?

I am not a big fan of citing definitions in writing essays, but here are two definitions of fetish for your easy reference:

1. Magical object: something, especially an inanimate object, that is revered or worshiped because it is believed to have magical powers or be animated by a spirit.


2. Object of obsession: an object, idea, or activity that somebody is irrationally obsessed with or attached to.

Having said all of that, I want to invite all of your comments on the article. We count on your comments to build out our ideas and this issue is a major conceptual hot spot.

  • Geri Stengel

    I don