I. MERSIYANOVA, L. YAKOBSON (ed.). Philanthropy in Russia: Potential and Paths of Development

Author: I. Diskin

И. МЕРСИЯНОВА, Л. ЯКОБСОН (ред.). Потенциал и пути развития филантропии в России, М., ГУ-ВШЭ, 2010, 419 с.

I. MERSIYANOVA, L. YAKOBSON (ed.). Philanthropy in Russia: Potential and Paths of Development, Moscow, SU—HSE, 2010, 419 pp.

Good books are good in different ways: some of them offer bold and stunningly novel theories; others, well substantiated and varied theories the original systematization of which reveals a new theoretical dimension of an old problem; still others, a firm empirical foundation for further theoretical approaches. Good books, however, have one thing in common: they doubt or even reject the habitual, trivial and frequently mythologized ideas about the object discussed. David Samoylov said in his time that the poet should "polish words"; academic science is expected to "polish" meanings and ideas.

The book under review is a unique example of a genuinely academic discussion of the problems of philanthropy in Russia which before that were discussed mainly by "glamour" magazines and, infrequently, by small scholarly contributions dealing mostly with philanthropists of prerevolutionary Russia. This is quite understandable: the authors of the book under review have pointed out that more likely than not philanthropy belongs to a fairly developed civil society. It is commonly believed that there is no such society in Russia which means that nothing can be said about Russian philanthropy. Philanthropists in czarist Russia and in the "advanced" West, therefore, are viewed as much more worthy objects of scholarly attention the examples of which can be found in the book.

For several years these authors were engaged in systematic theoretical and empirical studies of the problems of Russian civil society. They worked on the conceptual and concrete meaning of the "theorem of existence" of civil society in Russia. Today, they study Russian philanthropy, a highly mythologized problem.

As befits those who aspire to produce a solid work the authors turned to the genesis of philanthropy as connected ...

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