Social impact without social justice

Film and politics in the neoliberal landscape

by Sherry B. Ortner

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Many filmmakers and producers hope to create some kind of social or political impact with their films. This is the case with a Los Angeles–based production company that seeks to bring about social change through its films and related “social action” campaigns. Despite its good intentions, however, its efforts often fail. In this respect, the company resembles other kinds of entities that seek to “do good,” such as development NGOs, humanitarian organizations, and philanthropic foundations, which anthropologists have critiqued. The problem of social enterprises like this one is exacerbated under various conditions of the world reordered under neoliberalism. [social impact, social justice, social enterprise, film, politics, neoliberalism, United States]