Globalization: Social & Geographic Perspectives

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Ch. 34 & 35

November 1st, 2010 · 4 Comments
Apr 5/Political Globalization & Cultural Globalization · Reading Response Memos

Mathews’ article, Power Shift, takes an optimistic view on nongovernmental organizations (NGO).  There has been a big shift from state power to NGOs. She says that NGO’s role and influence has exploded in the last half-decade. The reason for this explosion is due to the advances in technology that has connected us to the whole world.  Thanks to computers, internet, fax machines, and cheaper commercial airlines, we can communicate with any part of the world easily.  Some NGOs have more financial resources than for example, the UN for human rights. Falling governments can no longer manage things like health care and education, so NGOs take over. They shape our lives with much needed public support and give more official development assistance.  NGOs were the initiators to combat the issue of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, before governments did. They are quicker than governments to respond to issues and opportunities.

Bond’s article, The Backlash against NGOs, takes a more pessimistic view on NGOs.  Bond’s article shows the negatives about NGOs outweighing their positives.  Although they are well intentioned, “every NGO has to answer to the people who pay its bills”. NGOs have a high dependency on the media to gain exposure. Things like global warming that affect everyone gets broadcasted but things that are country specific such as nitrate leaching gets ignored.  They need to find other means on raising money and not just depend on the media. They are also known to stretch the truth and make things seem worse than they are so more people will donate. I think we are giving NGOs too much power. Even though they have good intentions and usually do well, there could always be an alternate scheme in the background that we do not see. Corruption occurs everywhere, even in our police department, and it could easily occur in the NGOs.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1    yhuang109 // Nov 2, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Very nice summary about the rise of NGOs and their positive and negative impacts.

    I’d like to add one more point to the later. As we know many NGOs have one set of clear agenda to push forward to, therefore sometimes they can be tunnel-vision about their own goals without the concern of the overall good of the issue. One case in point, years ago, there was an opening hearing for a possible new bridge in Los Angles which is known for its abundance of NGOs. More than 40 NGOs, from local to international, showed up in the meeting each with its own agenda ranging from local noise control to whale migration. As the result, the new bridge project is still in debate and much in delayed while local citizens suffering from traffic congestion on a daily bases.

    One fundamental trade off in economy is the one between effectiveness and fairness. With the rise of NGOs, fairness, the concerns of everybody evolved, is emphasized while the effectiveness inevitably suffers. In a well develop country, for same non-urgent issues, the negative impact of delay is somewhat tolerable. But this is not always the case in global context.

  • 2    clare // Nov 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Do you think that technology could ever have a major effect on the economy?

  • 3    nataliedurack // Nov 4, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I agree with you. Although NGO’s have done a lot of good, I do believe that we are giving them to much power. We have to remember that they are after their own agenda’s, as well. One day their agenda might not be for the benefit of the people, and we may not have the power to stop them.

  • 4    antm // Nov 4, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Clare, I am not sure what you mean by your question in relation to NGOs? Are you asking about technological advances in regards to NGOs?
    I think that NGOs have taken advantage of technology and media. They use it to their benefit to get the donations they need to stay in business. Media goes across all forms of technology, radio, tv, internet, newspaper, etc…The truth is that most people believe what they see and hear on the news. If NGOs are paying off media, they can put a twist on things, make things seem far worse than they are. The public falls prey to this scheme and gives in and makes donations to benefits that they would otherwise not.

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