Philanthropic practices have traditionally allowed capitalist classes to generate cognitive and regulatory knowledge about society, in particular by promoting the development of the social sciences. In 19th century America, the new social strata which benefitted most from he process of industrialization, like the notorious “robber barons”, have invested their resources in the definition and the treatment of relevant social issues. In the late 20th century, the globalization of the economy under the hegemony of financial capital has triggered similar developments. New economic actors have emerged and have sponsored the management of strategic knowledges matching newly identified regulatory needs. The case of George Soros, a financier speculating on currency markets and the founder of a university for the social sciences established in Eastern Europe, provides a perfect example of this phenomenon. By resituating this academic institution both within the history of learned and scientific philanthropy and within the specific context of an individual biography, the article argues that it contributes to redefining the forms of “policy knowledge” that can be mobilized in the context of a global economy
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