Author Drazkiewicz-Grodzicka, Elzbieta
Article Title ‘State Bureaucrats’ and ‘Those NGO People’: Promoting the idea of civil society, hindering the state
full text http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0308275X16654553
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Source Critique of anthropology. vol. 36, no. 4 (Dec. 2016), p. 341-362
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Call number Article
Journal Title Critique of anthropology.
Copy vol. 36, no. 4 (Dec. 2016), p. 341-362
ISSN 0308-275X
Brief substance One of the characteristics of Polish foreign aid is its focus on the ‘transition experience’ and civil society. This specific celebration of the ‘Polish success story’ contrasts sharply with public debates that frequently criticise the weaknesses of Polish civil society and the difficulties in state – non-state relations. The Polish Aid apparatus itself is not immune to these problems, often exhibiting antagonistic relations between NGOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. By looking at the relations linking these stakeholders this text aims to analyse relations between the ‘state’ and ‘civil society’ in Poland. As the text demonstrates, complicated contemporary relations between NGOs and the State are first the outcome of the country’s troubled history of civil society, and an inheritance of the Solidarity movement when the concept of civil society was built on the idea of opposition to the state. Second, the anti-state attitude characterising contemporary organisations was also fostered by foreign institutions, which supported the Solidarity movement in its efforts to overturn the socialist regime in Poland, and later in the 1990s, became the strongest proponents of civil society and NGOs. Finally, these pre-existing historical conditions for the strong polarisation of NGOs and state institutions are now additionally reinforced by the ‘professionalization’ and ‘institutionalisation’ of NGOs. However, the uncritical promotion of ‘Western standards’ exhibited in the ideals of transparency and audit culture, rather than generating positive change only antagonises NGOs and state institutions. The ultimate effect of this process is that NGOs become more and more obsessed with bureaucratic modes of operating, and start to resemble state institutions. Effectively, NGOs risk losing their identity which is so strongly built on the non-governmental aspect of their work. Effectively, the perpetuation of the state/non-State opposition becomes a strategy which allows this separate identity to be maintained and NGOs status to remain unchallenged
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full text http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0308275X16654553

 
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