One of the most striking features of the anglophone literature on NGOs is the diversityof NGO sectors and their contributions to civil society and democracy; yet, exploration of thiscomplexity is often eschewed in favour of a normative approach in which the apparentlymutually enhancing relationship between NGOs, civil society and the state is underpinned byliberal democratic assumption rather than an engagement with wider debates about the politicsof development. Following a critique of this approach to NGOs, civil society and democracy, thepaper argues that the role of NGOs in the politics of development is far more complex than muchof the NGO literature would suggest, and calls for a more contextualized and less value-ladenapproach to the understanding of the political role of NGOs.
NGOs, civil society and democratization: a critical reviewof the literature
by Claire Mercer, Sage Publications, 10 November, 2008