By: Terje Tvedt
Against the background of the rise of NGO-channelled aid as a proportion of the international total, the author analyses NGO activity and culture and criticises the theories which have dominated research on development NGOs.
'In this book Terje Tvedt aims to liberate the foreign aid scene from the normative jargon of the NGO community and instead to describe it in the normal language of social science. He succeeds. One of the most incisive sections in the book is the analysis of NGO language: the way in which the aid discourse simultaneously allows practitioners to communicate with one another and creates a common set of values among them. this discourse is vital, as "few phenomena in society rely more on image production and handling than NGOs" ... Image management is central to the NGO phenomenon in other ways too ... He goes further in constructing a wider sociological analysis of the whole NGO phenomenon. Most NGO staff will have got used to biting criticisms by now and will not find the analysis surprising. It is harsh nonetheless, the more so for being comprehensive and impartial, and also sympathetic to the ideals of the NGO movement ... Tvedt concludes that real partnership requires a philosophical change and the acceptance of cultural pluralism, allowing NGOs to be a plural, culturally challenging force outside the state system.' - Alex de Waal in Development Policy Review 'Une critique severe et tres documentee permettant de porter un regard plus acere sur un phenomene en expansion.' - Berangere Cagnat in Le Monde Diplomatique '... analyses the phenomenon in an original way be challenging many of the dominant beliefs prevailing in the discourse on development aid.' - Marko Ulvila in Journal of
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