The Ford Foundation and the World Social Forum

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



In the 1980s and 1990s, the world saw a general movement toward governmental contraction, deregulation of markets, and privatization—toward neoliberal economic policy. In response to the perceived increased inequality within and among nations promoted by neoliberal economics, the “global justice movement” arose, consisting of two wings: nongovernmental organizations and direct action social movements. The World Social Forum (WSF), brainchild of French and Brazilian intellectuals and labor leaders, was founded as an alternative event to the World Economic Forum. The first WSF was held in Porto Alegro, Brazil, in 2001 and attracted approximately 10,000 participants, mostly from South America. The Ford Foundation’s Strengthening Global Civil Society portfolio, headed by Lisa Jordan, supported the WSF during its first three years. When the WSF moved to Mumbai, India, in 2004, the Indian host committee declined to accept Ford money because of the Foundation’s association with multinational corporations. . . .



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