Edited by G. H. Fagan and Ronaldo Munck
Chapter 10: Development NGOs, civil society and social change
In order to understand development-focused Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), it is useful to situate them in terms of their role in civil society and, more generally, in relation to the global historical context of social change. The three main elements of this chapter – NGOs, civil society and social change – are hard to define, are dynamic and are contested. NGOs are difficult to define and classify, and the lack of an agreed definitional framework poses ongoing difficulties for understanding and analysis. The term ‘NGO’ merely defines what they are not, leaving an extremely broad canvas of differing origins, motivations, organizational and funding structures. NGOs may have exogenous or endogenous origins, and are usually associated with voluntarism, ‘private’ constitution and non-profit orientation. The definitional dilemma surrounding NGOs is not merely a theoretical or conceptual problem; it also presents practical obstacles for understanding and learning. This chapter contributes to clarifying these issues.
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