Hirsch, Joachim (1999) Das demokratisierende Potential von “Nichtregierungsorganisationen”. The democratizing potential of NGOs. IHS Political Science Series 65, October 1999. [Working Paper]
Recently Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have received increased attention by the scientific community and the general public alike. Optimists see in NGOs a possibility to establish democratic structures or a civil society at the international level. However, upon closer inspection the potential of NGOs appears less promising. In this paper, NGOs are analysed on the basis of an elaborate theory of the state. Thereby the latest transformation of the state system as an effect of neoliberal globalisation strategies can be taken into account. Moreover, a definition of the term “NGO” is attempted, considering the societal and political constellations, which recently have lead to a proliferation of this organisational form. These constellations are signified by legitimation, representation and rationalisation deficits of modern societies. Finally, NGOs are found to have the potential to play an important role in international regulatory frameworks. Yet, the opaque and uncontrolled corporative structures NGOs have formed with states may severely limit the NGOs’ democratic quality.
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