Professionalizing Protest: A Comparative Analysis of Advocacy Organizations in Serbia and China

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Anna MATTHIESEN, New School for Social Research, USA
This paper synthesizes two discrete periods of ethnographic research in domestic non-governmental advocacy organizations in Belgrade, Serbia and Kunming, China. Specifically, it compares their structure: how these groups perceive the construction of their organization and the strategies they use, and of peer organizations in the field; and funding/donors: how these groups remain sustainable and from what sources of funding; how search for funding determines mission goals; Signs of growing domestic philanthropy of these groups; Moving beyond observations of the oft-noted proliferation of non-governmental organizations in many post-socialist spaces and state efforts to rein them in, this paper will argue 1) that the permanent institutional precarity of these groups in both geographic locations is due to a now globally pervasive neoliberal logic, one that has marketized charity in both senses of providing service and/or money; 2) a shared socialist legacy has meant that the work that these organizations engage in and their appeals to donors revolve around specific values about forms of social welfare, civic participation and the state’s role in social life that are being reshaped according to this same logic; 3) as the NGO becomes the institutional form of choice or necessity for those who want to engage in either service or advocacy projects, this has significant implications for the possibilities and forms of protest.