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NGOs, professionalisation and power: Case study of Bangladesh

Haque, Kazi Nurmohammad Hossainul (2021) NGOs, professionalisation and power: Case study of Bangladesh. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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NGOs are a major development actor in many developing countries like Bangladesh. I argue that there is huge gap in NGO literature about a significant development – NGOs’ impact on social structure especially through shaping social roles and identities of their employees.

This thesis uses sociology of professions literature to show how NGO organisational processes structured or have been basis of their expert employees shaping into a kind of meritocracy comparable to public and private bureaucracies, how the resulting ideology turned them into a distinct professional group , and how the specialised roles pertaining to governance and finance intermediations established in them advocacy and microcredit expertise respectively.

I build on Larson’s (2013/1977) professional project framework, Parkin’s (1979) concept of credentials-based social closure and Wright’s (1985) class concept of skill and organisational assets to develop my understanding of NGO-based professionalisation and class formation.

My core argument in this thesis is that expertise-based social closure is the goal of NGO professional project that in turn is achieved through organisational processes. I substantiate this core argument by empirical evidence showing that general organisational processes shape NGO professional ideology of organisational meritocracy while the special organisational processes enable development and monopolisation of distinct advocacy and microcredit expertise areas. The special professionalisation of NGO advocacy and microcredit employees are articulated as Governance Social Intermediation (GSI) and Finance Social Intermediation (FSI) respectively.

I also substantiated that while NGOs are a direct vehicle of professionalisation for their expert employees, they are also acting as an indirect vehicle of their class formation by enabling the NGO expert employees to claim distinct position in existing social hierarchy and to gain power and influence by virtue of distinct political and ideological roles concerning governance and finance intermediations respectively.

The thesis is based on in-depth interviews of NGO expert employees and document analysis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Social Sciences and Arts
Supervisor(s): Jayasuriya, Kanishka and Hutchinson, Jane
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