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Organising and representing the poor in a clientelistic democracy: the decline of radical NGOs in Bangladesh

Lewis, David (2017) Organising and representing the poor in a clientelistic democracy: the decline of radical NGOs in Bangladesh. Journal of Development Studies, 53 (10). pp. 1545-1567. ISSN 0022-0388

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00220388.2017.1279732

Abstract

This paper examines the political role of radical development NGOs that emerged in Bangladesh to challenge the marginalization of subordinate groups and strengthen democratic processes. After briefly introducing the political context of Bangladesh and its NGOs, the paper identifies and defines a radical NGO sub-sector. It then reviews the activities of these organizations during the pre-1990 military government era and during the subsequent period of electoral democracy. Some important achievements are identified, but also many failures that have led to decline, leaving behind an NGO sector dominated by credit and service delivery organizations. The paper then explains this decline by focusing on three inter-related factors: (i) an institutional setting dominated by clientelistic structures that have undermined efforts to build horizontal alliances among excluded groups in civil society, or links between NGOs and political parties; (ii) a shift in donor support from mobilization to market-based service delivery agencies; and (iii) internal structures that have generated legitimacy and accountability problems by encouraging elite capture, co-option and personalised leadership in the radical sub-sector. It concludes with some brief reflections on the main implications of these failures.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/fjds20
Additional Information: © 2017 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2016 15:26
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 06:22
Projects: RES-155-25-0064, SGS/00456/G
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, Nuffield Foundation
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/68716

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