• Emma Wolling Vinter
Refugees face immense political antagonism in Europe – national governments and the European Union (EU) have not provided viable or sustainable solutions to this problem, so in this paper I focus on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as alternative actors as drivers of social change. I study four NGOs operating in Europe, in order to discover how they manoeuvre within a terrain that is heavily impacted by these political antagonisms. Specifically, I pose the research question (RQ):
How do Danish and Maltese refugee-focused NGOs navigate the political antagonisms towards refugees seen in their respective countries?
I approach this question from a feminist standpoint, which, although typically applied to study gendered inequality, is increasingly used in the study of broader social change. I use a constant comparative method (CCM) based on two data sets: expert interviews from a feminist perspective, and website material from the four NGOs’ nationally focused webpages. Two core categories emerged from my data: namely that the NGOs use solidarity and resistance as mechanisms to navigate the political antagonism towards refugees. I build a theoretical framework around these concepts from an intersectional perspective, particularly due to intersectionality’s raison d'être which lies in its concern with power relations and social inequalities – factors which I understand to underpin the ways NGOs can work with and for refugees. In the analysis I explore the diverging ways in which the NGOs employ these solidarity and resistance mechanisms when relating to: alliances, critical junctures, contention, adversaries, and funding. I find that although the national context in Denmark and Malta does provide local flavour to the ways in which the NGOs use solidarity and resistance to navigate the political antagonism towards refugees, the organisational strategies of the NGOs seem to have a greater impact. I furthermore find many similarities between the ways in which the NGOs must balance solidarity and resistance mechanisms to navigate the treacherous terrain in which they work, most of which seem to be grounded in a broader professionalisation of social change that necessarily disciplines dissent. This finding is likely applicable to the broader NGO-sphere in Europe, rather than just impacting refugee-focused NGOs.
Key Words: Solidarity, Resistance, Intersectionality, Refugees, NGOs
SpecialisationGlobal Gender Studies
Publication date27 Jun 2023
Number of pages69
ID: 532284333