Globalization: Social & Geographic Perspectives

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Blog #4: NGO’s

April 10th, 2011 · 3 Comments
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In Mathew’s article, “Power Shift,” she discusses the redistribution of power among states, markets, and civil societies. This is due to the national governments sharing political, social and security roles of power.  It’s unknown how many NGO’s are currently present or how fast they may be growing. Ngo’s today bring more official development assistance than the whole UN system. They seem to be delivering the services and brining about the new ideas; this changes institutions and the norms. The US and Mexico wanted to reach a trade agreement, so the two governments planned and negotiated. The NGO’s had a completely different outlook on this negotiating.  So NGO’s formed in each country and across the borders. The NGO’s proceeded to create opposition and in turn endangered congressional approval of the US government. After a while the Bush opening an agreement to environmental labor concerns. Technology and lower costs of international communication alter the NGO’s goals. From here we see that money, information, pollution, and popular culture are all always changing in terms of who is in power, with not much consideration to political boundaries. The NGO’s seem to play a big role and influence in society, and have the expertise and money to continue to do so.

In Bond’s article, “The Backlash against NGO’s,” he discusses the turning-point in the success of the NGO’s. The fortune of the NGO’s was changed when the environmental pressure groups began to draw a treaty to control the emissions of greenhouse gases. This was the first time that NGO’s were the decision makers as opposed to the listeners. When finaince and production began to become more globally important, decisions were taken to an international level. The NGO’s can sometimes even be more effective than the government, and in some cases have a big amount of power. They have a lot to do with human rights, development, and the environment.  NGO’s take advantage of the media and all of the technology that’s available today compared to 15 years ago. All of these factors make the NGO’s much more effective and successful.  But there’s another side to the NGO’s. NGO’s don’t have to think about policy trade-offs or the actions they take that can cause harm. NGO’s are very different from political parties in the aspect that they have nothing to with elections. When people elect them it creates a big impact on people’s lives, and since the NGO’s don’t have this, it causes influence to be open to abuse. NGO’s have positives and negatives to them, and can create so many impacts and influences to society.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1    astein102 // Apr 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I look at NGOs as a good thing. They are usually like watchdog agencies that are there to protect the people from governments that are more concerned with allowing corporations to make huge profits. While all big organizations have their flaws, most NGOs have good intentions and have protected some area that needed protection.

  • 2    mikesans76 // Apr 11, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Astein, I can agree with you to a point. There is much good that organizations such as Habitat for Humanity can provide, in theory.True, watchdog groups can and do in fact give us viable information that is not so easly accesible (matthew’s example of South Mexico) But in the global world, a world in which private industry has developed a much stonger network of communication then most nation-states, private industry has developed more influence and power then the individual citizens. Listen to the Brian Lehrer interview and you may see what I mean. We have many watchdog groups overlooking the Haiti situation (celeberties, musicians) and they give us their view on the ongoing recovery effort. But still NGO’s have made essential decisions that may be hindering the effort as far as the Hatian and donating citizens of the world are concerned. Our government has handed over the project of state building to private companies. Such businesses will more then likley make decisions that benefit the productivity of the company and not address the essential needs of the Hatians in a practical manner. The problem is so bad that the interview makes it seem like the NGO’s are the authority. How can private industires truly understand the complexity of the Hatian situation and are they making decisions that will create a Hatian infrastructure that will not need to rely on NGO’s in the future. Probly not as the the man said in the interview “why would try and take themselves out of a job.”

  • 3    Prof. Hala // Apr 12, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I missed this on the first go-around. First-rate description and critique of the rise of NGOs, Samantha. The cross-border mobilization around NAFTA is a perfect example of a “transnational advocacy network.”

    Alex, if I’ve learned anything from studying NGOs over the years, it’s that one shouldn’t judge them based on their intentions alone, since intentions have no necessary relationship to outcomes and effects. And if intentions were our metric, who gets to decide whether they are “good” or “bad”? It’s all a value judgment.

    Good move, Mike, to think about this in the context of state making (which, in American political discourse is typically referred to as “nation building”). This case, and the case of many “weak” or “failing” states, contrasts starkly with the European pattern described by Tilly. In Europe, it was ongoing “bargaining” between would-be state leaders and would-be citizens that eventually led to the creation of strong states and empowered citizenries. “Extraction” of resources for war-making/state-making occurred domestically, and in exchange citizens got “protection.” In these later, non-European cases, putative state leaders are not forced to “bargain” with their citizens, since their resources come from *abroad*, from outside the state. Instead, they “bargain” with international donors.

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