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R EPRODUCING INEQUALITY ?: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL RELATIONS IN NON PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS BY MARIANA ZAPATA A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirement s for the degree of Bachelor of Arts Under the Sponsorship of Sarah Hernandez, PhD Sarasota, Florida May 2013
ii Acknowledgements I want to thank Dr. Sarah Hernandez for her guidance as my professor, advisor and thesis sponsor. I would not have been able to do this without her. express how much I appreciate all of her help and dedication, and how much I admire her as a pro fessor and as a person. I also want to thank Dr. Emily Fairchild and Dr. Jos Portugal for their support throughout my thesis process, for always offering incredibly interesting courses, and for everything they have taught me. I want to thank the organiz ations that opened their doors to me and let me observe them. Thank you for making this possible, and thank you for restoring my faith in non profits. I want to thank New College for helping me grow and change, and for all the amazing experiences that wil l forever be part of me. I would not have traded this for anything. I also want to thank all my friends at New College for making this experience unforgettable, and for being some of the most amazing, caring, dedicated people I have ever met. Last of a ll, I want to thank my family. Gracias por todo su apoyo y su amor. Por construir un santuario en el que siempre me he sentido feliz, segura y amada. ¡Los amo muchsimo!
iii Table of Contents Chapter 1: Rethinking Non Profits ................................ ................................ ............................. 1 Theoretical Frame ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 4 My Project ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 6 Chapter 2: Discourse and Social Relations in Non Profit Organizations ................................ 9 Historical Background ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 9 The Discourse of Domination ................................ ................................ ................................ 12 Social Relations within Non Profit Organizations ................................ ............................... 14 NPO Donor relationship ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 15 Donor Client Relationship ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 18 NPO Client Relationship ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 20 Problems with the Study of Non Profit Organizations ................................ ....................... 22 Chapter 3: Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 24 Organizations ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 24 Organization A ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 25 Organization B ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 27 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 31 Sampling ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 33 Organization A ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 33 Organization B ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 34 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 34 Chapter 4: Structure and the Reproduction of Social Hierarchies ................................ ........ 38 Understanding Structures: The Goals and Strategies of the Organizations ..................... 39 Goals ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 40 Organization A ................................ ........................ 40 Organization B: Fighting the System ................................ ................................ ................. 41 Strategies ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 42 Organization A : Ensuring Efficiency ................................ ................................ ................. 43 Organization B : Change through Participation ................................ ................................ 45 Discourse ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 48 Self representation within the organizations ................................ ................................ ......... 48
iv Organization A: Practical and Direct ................................ ................................ ................ 48 Organization B: Theories of Change ................................ ................................ ................. 50 From Oblivion to Scorn: How the Staff Members Talked About Other Organizations ......... 53 Mistrust and Experiences of Abuse: Client/Member Perceptions of Other Organizations ... 56 The Organization as a Family ................................ ................................ ................................ 58 Organization A : Parental Guidance ................................ ................................ .................. 58 Organization B : Fighting is Caring ................................ ................................ ................... 61 Empowerment ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 63 Organization A : Material Self Sufficiency ................................ ................................ ......... 63 Organization B: The Power of Expression ................................ ................................ ........ 65 Spaces for Client/Member Expression and Discourse Creation ................................ ......... 67 Organization A ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 68 Organization B ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 73 Conclusions ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 79 Chapter 5: Where do We Go from Here? ................................ ................................ ................ 83 Alterations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 86 Suggestions for Further Research ................................ ................................ ......................... 87 Suggestions for Non Profit Organizations ................................ ................................ ............ 87 Final Comments ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 88 Appendix A: Original and Translated Quotes ................................ ................................ ......... 90 Appendix B: Interview Guides ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 99 Appendix C: Consent Forms ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 104 Works Cited ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 106
v R EPRODUCING INEQUALITY?: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL RELATIONS IN NON PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS Mariana Zapata New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT This research project seeks to explore whether the structure of non profit organizations enables or inhibits the reproduction of social hierarchies within the client staff relationship. I study two structurally different organizations operating with simil ar constituents in Florida: a service based organization with a defined hierarchy, and a grassroots organization with a participatory approach. Through in depth interviews with clients and staff members, I sought to gain insight into the processes of inter action, empowerment, and expression that existed within both organizations. I found that, though both organizations reproduced social hierarchies, their structure impacted the extent to and the way in which these hierarchies were reproduced. Therefore, in equality is being reproduced within the social relations in non profit organizations, but there are ways in which structures can be changed to counteract it. This knowledge allows us to better understand and find spaces for change and improvement within no n profit organizations. Dr. Sarah Hernandez Division of Social Sciences
1 Chapter 1: Rethinking Non Profits I recently stumbled upon my college application essay and, I have to admit, was utterly embarrassed. There were the expected stylistic mistakes and bad grammar, but more than anything, I was embarrassed of what the essay said about how I thought. The essay was on why I wanted to dedicate my life to working in non profit organizations to fight inequality. Though that is still wha t I want to do, the discourse of the essay reflects everything that is problematic about the world of non profits and aid; from paternalism, to romanticizing, to condescension. More than anything, it reflects what is most problematic: the lack of awareness of these issues. Of course, my attitude towards the world of non profit organizations is informed by a general idea of how our society perceives these organizations. Non profits develop out of a perceived need to help others. It is a way for people to eng age in their sense of civic duty and give back to the community by providing for those who have not been as fortunate (Drucker 1990). As such, they are organizations with good intentions and, at least in theory, altruistic motives. It is important, however to start questioning more than the intentions of these organizations, and looking beyond superficial perceptions into how the structures, attitudes, and work of these organizations impact the people that they seek to help. I believe that most non profit organizations genuinely care about their cause, but a lack of constant self reflection and awareness of problematic tendencies can hinder them from reaching their goals. More importantly, it often has negative repercussions for their constituents. It is th is awareness that motivated me to study non profit s, seeking possible alternatives or solutions.
2 A common critique of non profit organizations is that they do not address the root of the problem, but instead only offer medici ne for the symptoms. As such, they do not seek to undo systems of oppression and inequality. Many organizations have begun to move towards a model that seeks structural change and the empowering of people who are disenfranchised, marginalized, and neglected. This has represented improv ement. Yet, more recent analyses have noted the limitations in the se efforts to empower people in need when the client staff relationship is not empowering in itself ( Chetkovich and Kunreuther) Organizations are influenced by the larger social structures in which they exist. As such, the structural inequalities that are present in society seep into the structure of non profit organizations, and the interactions between the staff and the constituents. People working for non profit organizations are often m ore privileged and, thus, have a high er socio economic standing than their constituency. Therefore, they may unwillingly and unknowingly have advantages that, when added to the authoritative positions they hold within the organization, create and/or sustai n an unequal relationship. We must move away from rhetoric and start to question whether structural change and empowerment is possible if organizations continue to have a paternalistic and hierarchical relationship with the people they serve fail ing to empower them or address the root of the problem. It is true that providing aid often requires a position of privilege. People who do not have access to resources may have a harder time working to give other people the resources they themselves lack. Th e problem is not that people working for organizations have a position of power, but rather that this position is being reproduced and reinforced. It is assumed that people who work to provide aid seek to help others better their
3 situation s However, a sit uation of disadvantage cannot be improved if the act of providing help may also mean recreating dominance. Privilege should not mean dominance or authority, and being underprivileged should not mean being passive in the eve that non but rather to use the resources they possess to create more balanced, egalitarian structures, even if it is only within themselves. Of course, not all non profits can be dedicated to structural change, since this would leave a wide gap of immediate needs unattended to. We cannot let people starve while we work on the slow process of changing structures. However, even organizations that are meeting immediate needs can be more cognizant of their actions t o ensure that their relationship to constituents is not defined by rigid hierarchies. If non profits start off with the assumption that their authority is necessary or fair, they run the risk of becoming part of the oppression they so avidly criticize. It is problematic that organizations whose purpose is to solve social problems may be unwittingly participating in the perpetuation of structural oppression and inequality. In an attempt to understand what factors influence this perpetuation of inequality, a nd what kind of organizations are more vulnerable to it, this research project seeks to explore how the structure of non profit organizations impacts the social relations between the staff and the clients. My findings suggest that the structure of organiza tions affects the extent to which these hierarchies are reproduced, as well as the form that they take.
4 Theoretical Frame An analysis of the power dynamics between the staff and the clients in non profit organizations rests on particular understandings of power, the role of discourse, and the subaltern. Therefore, I share how these theoretical outlooks influence my research. In this study, I take a Foucauld ian approach to the definition of power. Michel Foucault theorizes that power is som ething that is not possessed but exerted (Foucault 1980) No one creates, gains or gives power, but rather, people act out power in their interactions with others (Caputo and Yount 1993; Molinaro 1991). Because of this, power permeates the seams of every a spect of society. Institutions are often thought of as societal structures that have great amounts of power. Foucault, however, states that this is false. Institutions do not have power; institutions are a product of power. In other words, institutions are tools that power uses to reinforce and reproduce itself. In this framework, non profit organizations are institutions that not only dominate the relations with their clients, but that are also used to reproduce the power of the dominant groups (Caputo and Yount 1993). P ower creates knowledge in order to exert and reproduce itself (Foucault 1980) T h at is, th is considered valid knowledge using this to guarantee their dominant position. Powe r filters the lens through which we perceive and construct reality mainly through discourse. Discourse is the way we conceptualize things and their relationship to everything else By controlling what discourses are created that is, controlling how we co nceptualize things dominant powers can shape our reality and, in doing so, our actions (Molinaro, 1991). Non profit organizations have the power to define themselves to donors and to the rest of the world.
5 Thus, non profit organizations can control not only how we perceive them, but also how we perceive their constituents, and the act of giving itself. In Post Colonial Theory, the term marginalized and oppressed by dominant structures. Many scholars who study non profit organizations and development conceptualize the subaltern as groups of people in developing nations that are marginalized by the hegemonic powers ( Guha and Spivak 1988; Escobar 1990; Chakravorty, Spivak, Milevsk a and Barlow 2006) This would inc lude groups such as indigenous people that are driven out of their lands by Western corporations, pastoral communities whose p and religious minorities whose ceremonies are prohibited. P art of this domination is achieved thr ough exclusive discourses that do not recognize or legitimize the opinions, thoughts, customs, or cultures of the subaltern. Because of this, the dynamics of power between the dominant and the subaltern often leave little space for the self identity and se lf construction of the later (Pandey 2006). Since organizations are more accessible to the general community than specific people and causes that are often far away, many people get information about issues and constituents through the organization itself. Because of this, non profit organizations control the discourses within the world of aid, and they have power over how the constituents and the organizations themselves are constructed. This means that organizations often fail to provide a space in which constituents can express their views, needs, and identities in their own terms. Although it is undeniable that this global relationship of domination exists, t here has been insufficient attention paid to the oppression of p eople within the hegemonic
6 something that happens outside of the United States and other Western nations. This idea counterparts never have to deal with. Even when studies recognize that the problems of often ignores that marginalization and oppression exist within the develope d world as well. My study seeks to address this weakness by analyzing the reproduction of systems of oppression within th e context of a developed nation in the hopes of overcoming, to some degree, the hose in privilege d nations It is imperative to study if and how inequality is being reproduced by non profit organizations. Understanding this dynamic m ay help organizations provide better services to their constituents. More importantly, it may stop the perpetuation of constituents marginalized and underprivileged. The awareness of abstract concepts like power dynamics can thus serve to understand and find spaces for change within the hierarchical structure that creates the social problems these organizations work against. By applying sociology, we may be able to de construct oppressive practices and discourses, and create new ones, so that we might get to a point in which we can a nswer positively to the question of whether the subaltern can speak. My Project the relationship between power and discourse and the role of this relationship in sustaining social structures, I explore how the structure of non profit organizations affect s the social relations between the staff and the clients I focus on how these relations perpetuate and challenge existing social hierarchies within
7 the developed world. In order to do this, I identified two structurally different non profit organizations in the United States Organization A is a world renowned international service based organization with a more vertical structure Organization B is a local grassroots social change organization that seeks to forge a more egalitarian, horizontal structure. Organization A works to resettle refugees within the United States, and Organization B organizes political campaigns around the issues of housing, immigration, and gender violence. I chose these two organizations because the populations they served were very similar and because, although both sought to provide people with the opportunity to improve their quality of life, they had very different structures and approaches to achieve these goals. Through this comparison, I am able to analyze how structure impacts the relationship between the organization and the constituents, as well as to identify ways in which non profits can minimize their contribution to social inequity. Because the focus of this study is on relationships, interactions, and experiences, qualitative research is the most appropriate approach. Qualitative research is best when research would not be able to give me information and interactions with as much detail as qualitative. Though my sample may not be representative of all non profit organizations or all constituents, qualitative research made it possible to gain a profound understan experiences affected their daily life, and how these interactions sustain and challenge the larger social structure of hierarchy. I conducted 18 open ended interviews with the staff and the clients of both o rganizations. The interviews covered a wide range of topics,
8 including the organization in general, its services, and the client staff relationship. I paid special attention to the discourses created by the clients, the staff, and the organization, and how these discourses fit into, and contribute to, the conceptualization of the world of aid. Based on these interviews and observations, I conclude that the structure of non profit organizations influences the extent to and the way in which these hierarchies are reproduced and accepted. Though there was a hierarchy of power within both organizations, especially when it came to the opportunity for expression and discourse creation, it was much more prevalent, accepted, and institutionali zed within the service based organization than within the grassroots organization In order to contextualize my specific study and its relevance to the broader dialogues about non profits, in the next chapter I present the debates regarding non profit org anizations, focusing on the social relations that exist within them. In the third chapter I explain my methodology in detail and give a more thorough description of the organizations, the participants, and my interviews The fourth chapter contains my anal ysis of field research, focusing on the structures of the organizations, the discourses that exist within them, the spaces of expression that are available to the constituents, and the comparison of the two organizations The final chapter offers concluding remarks and summarizes what has been discussed throughout the entire thesis, providing suggestions for the organizations as well as for possible further research.
9 Chapter 2: Discourse and Social Relations in Non Profit Organizations Throug h my study, I seek to better understand how macro level systemic structures that perpetuate hierarchies affect the micro level social interactions between the providers and the beneficiaries in non profit organizations. Because of this, it is important to explore some of these wider structures, and how others have conceived of their impact on social relations. The schola rship that informs my analysis ranges from the conceptualization of non profits, to commonly identified problems, to the different types of relationships that are possibly developed between the players of the world of aid. This scholarship will lightly touch on Development Theory and will present several international examples that are relevant to the national context of the United States. Un derstanding these intricate dynamics may result in the search for alternative structures and solutions to the reproduction of inequality. I present this literature beginning with a brief historical background on non profits. With this contextual understan ding I move to explore the types of discourses present in the world of non profits; followed by an explanat i on of the repercussions of these discourses. This is further explored through some of the social relations within non profits (NPO Donor, Client Don or, and NPO Client ) I close with a presen t ation of the problems and limitations of stu dying non profit organizations.
10 Historical Background Non profit organizations (NPOs) 1 were first f o unded in the United States during the Civil War. At that time, they were set up to help war widows and orphans, but soon after they began to slowly expand into other areas where need was recognized (INCITE! 2007). However, in the United States and many parts of the world, non profit or ganizations did not have a signif icant role in the resolution and discussion of social issues until the late 20th century. 1990; Stirrat and Henkel 19 97; Streeten 1997; Gibelman and Gelman 2004). As a result, more reliance was given to organizations that existed for the explicit purpose of providing basic needs to people who had no access to them, or to creating social change. Even organizations that wo rked with governments were given more legitimacy than govern ments themselves because of their perceived focus on the issue, and the assumption of their altruistic motives. Despite these assumed motives, many of the practices of NPOs have begun to be quest ioned and criticized. Many of these criticisms attack evident abuses on the part of NPOs, such as the misrepresentation of organizations, the misuse of funds for personal life enhancements, excessive compensations, and scams (Gibelman and Gelman 2004). Th ese abuses are easily recognized as such and can, therefore, be addressed in a fairly 1 I would like to clarify here my choice of the word NPO instead of NGO. Non governmental organizations operate without help from or affiliation to a government. Non profit organizations are or ganizations whose main purpose is not to make a profit, but they can be affiliated, funded, and/or formed by a government. I chose the word non profit because it includes organizations that both work with governments or apart from them, and would thus be t he more in clusive term This is particularly important in my personal study, since one of the organizations was an NGO and the other operated through the United States government.
11 straight forward manner. However, there are some problems that are not so obvious, and there are practices that seem harmless even goo d but ultimately hurt both the org anization and the constituents. These problems are much more difficult to address because they are much harder to identify and understand. Fortunately, there have been several scholars and social activists that have dedicated much of their work to the analysis and understanding of the effects of non profit practices. Some of the most common criticisms that come out of this analysis point out that, in many cases, NPOs are taking authority over tasks that they are not qualified to carry out, that they can aggravate problems, and that they often perpetuate existing social and economic inequalities within communities (Stirrat and Henkel 1997; Gibelman and Gelman 2004; Mueller 2004; Edelman and Haugerud 2005). For example, Adrian Cullis (1992) explains how no n profit organizations have worked to suppress indigenous pastoral practices in many African countries, with the mentality that these practices were harmful to the environment and failed to be productive. However, attempts at reforming pastoralism have res ulted in a higher impoverishment of these communities, and an undermining of their culture and traditions. Though these organizations may have had good intentions they aggravated the problems they claimed to be solving Much of the criticism directed at n on profits is caused by their intricate relationship with development, since most development projects operate through NPOs. Though development is often defined as a positive practice that creates more economic opportunities, brings better technology, and raises the standard of living of communities (Edelman and Haugerud 2005), it is also avidly criticized. One of the biggest oppositions to development is the discourse that it often employs. S ome scholars claim that
12 development discourse is simply another t ool for the economic and political control of the powerful over the marginalized (Escobar 1992). This discourse is present in many non profits and it is, in my opinion, one of the most important ways in which power and domination is reproduced within organ izations. The next section is dedicated to the exploration of this discourse, and the repercussions it has on the relationship of aid and on the lives of the people who have a part in this relationship. The Discourse of Domination Discourse has been the center of much of the discussion about development and NPOs both within its supporters and opponents. Michel Foucault conceptualized discourse as the way that power creates truth and knowledge and, thus, how power reproduces and maintains itself (Foucault 1980; Molinaro 1991). Following this logic, many scholars have criticized development for creating an oppressive discourse in which the recipients of aid are subjugated and inequality is reinforced (Escobar 1992; Streeten 1997; Kapoor 2004). Through the d iscourse produced by development, an image of the of cultural, political and economic domination over those constructed as inferior (Escobar 1992). In other words, NPOs take part in the creation of identities through which social interactions are defined (Chetkovich and Kunreuther 2006); such as the dynamics separating privileged donor and underprivileged receiver, helper and helped. It is not that these identities exis t because of NPOs. On the contrary, NPOs were created because these identities already existed. They may still however, unwittingly serve to perpetuate these identities even though their stated goal is often to eradicate them.
13 This is especially problema tic because entities constructed as underdeveloped are often those that do not fit into Western ideas of civilization and normality. This is reflected in the debate over the role of traditions and culture in development, with one side arguing that traditi ons (most often non Western traditions) are backwards, inferior, and barriers to growth and improvement, and the other side arguing that traditions are a tool for improvement and must be taken into account in the creation of projects (Crewe and Harrison 19 98). Perhaps even more disturbing is the internalization of this idea by the people it marginalizes. Josh Swiller (2007) illustrates this in an account of his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia He recounts how the people in the village that he was placed in believed that he was more skilled wealthy, and knowledgeable than them because he was white. This was a problem because he was not an expert and had only received training in the Peace Corps. They expected him to be responsible for the bu ilding of we lls and a hospital because they assumed him to know how to do it and to have unlimited amounts of money. This staunch example of the inte rnalization of inferiority through ed ucation, ability, and resources by the people of the village reveals the power, danger and prevalence of the conception of Western thought as superior, more advanced, and more civilized. This ideology is present even in organizations working locally within the United States. Many of the constituents of NPOs do not fall int o the Western cultural, gender, racial, or class ideal, and are marginalized just as much as people living in other countries. The effect s of this ideology are deeply felt in the relationship between the staff/volunteers and clients of NPOs. In many organi zations the staff and volunteers are often people who fit dominant ideologies and, therefore, hold a position of cultural power
14 over many of the constituents 2 This is very often seen in the form of class, education, and race. For example, educated, upper or middle class white people tend to lead tutoring programs geared towards minority kids living in low income areas. In situations such as these, the inequality of social capital and privilege between the tutors and the kids is undeniable, and often infor ms the way in which the two groups interact. There are several levels in which domination may be reproduced, but in my study I focus on how it is reproduced within the social relations of organizations. The careful consideration of the scholarship that analyses these relationships helps us understand the intricate and often obscure ways in which domination is reproduced Though I have limited my analysis to the relationship between staff and clients, I believe this relationship is informed and influenced by the other social relations within NPOs. For this reason, I also include the NPO donor and the client donor relationships in my exploration of existing scholarship about the subject. Social Relations within Non Profit Organizations Before studying the effect that organizational structure has on the social relations within non profit organizations, we must understand these relationships themselves. The main actors in these relationships are the NPOs 3 the donors, and the clients. This section begins wit h a discussion of the NPO Donor relationship, then moves to explain the Donor Client relationship and ends with the NGO Client relationship 2 Of course, this is not applicable to every NPO, but it is common enough to be important 3 It should be noted that, for practical purposes, I have included staff members and volunteers within the category of the NPOs because they have very defined roles within the structural system of organizations.
15 NPO Donor relationship Non profit organizations depend mostly on donations from third parties (governments, private donors, etc .) in order to exist. This dependency can be positive because it creates a regulating pressure to prevent issues such as corruption, misrepresentation, and the misuse of funds. If an organization loses legitimacy, it is less likely to re ceive funds, and will thus be unable to sustain itself (Gibelman and Gelman 2004). Therefore, keeping a good image is in the self interest of the organization. However, this also gives donors the power to dictate the actions of the organization because it Organizations have to constantly appeal to donors, seeking to convince them that they are the most worthy cause/ organization in which to invest their money (Picas Contreras 2003; Chetkovich and Kunreuther 2006). This means that, in order to gain the most attention, organizations often resort to presenting an image of their constituents that is helpless and undignifi ed. el mercado de la caridad o del dolor ), in which donations become transact ions in the economy of giving. Thus, though individ uals within a constituent group may be lifted out of their position, the group as a whole must continue to be seen as powerless in order to continue to receive attention (INCITE! 2007). This raises the question of whether non profit organizations can empow er without victimizing ( Fisher 1997) and if it possible to balance empowering constituents while appealing to donors
16 The relationship between NPOs and donors not only creates a necessity for constituents to appear helpless in order to get resources, but a lso often results in the subjugation of the constituents to the will of the donors. Donors, especially governments, oft using their monetary power to control what organizations do and how they go about it (Fisher 1997:453). The problem is that the interests of the donors may not necessarily be the same as those of the constituents. For example, when much of the funds are received from the government, it may be difficult for a social change organization to advocate for changes that are not compatible with those of the current administration (Fisher 1997). Faced with the decision to either provide some services to constituents by catering to donors, or provide no services, many organizations are forced to play into the dynamics of power in the economic and political realm, often to the detriment of the constituents. However, it would be erroneous to conceptualize the NPO donor relationship as one of mere domination and subjugation. Though donors do hold power over non profit organizations in many ways, non profits also hold power over donors. Because organizations decide how to market themselves, they can co ntrol how donors see them and their constituents By donating, donors are pla cing their trust on the reliability of the image and information that the organizations are presenting (Gibelman and Gelman 2004). In this placing of trust, the donors abdicate to an extent their position of power. Furthermore, donors can also depend on n on profit organizat ions for information on world affairs. This gives the organization an even greater power over donors because it may control how they see a specific situation. An infamous example of this is the 30 Kony 201 2 campaign launched by Invisible Children
17 Inc. on March, 2012 (invisiblechildreninc 2012) The campaign advocate d for the arrest Uganda known for human rights violations and the use of child soldiers (invisiblechildren.com/about). The video rapidly went viral but was heavily criticized for having a simplistic solution, reproducing white savior mentality, and silencing constituents (Ruge 2012; Tufekci 2012). On the other hand, many people defended the video by claiming that prior to it; many people had been unaware of the conflict in Uganda (Hong 2012; Margon 2012) However, the campaign was one sided and failed to acknowledge that the Ugandan army which Invisible Children Inc. supported was guilty of committing the same abuses as Joseph Kony ( Ntale 2010 ). Thus, the organization controlled the attention the confli ct received, understanding of it In cases such as these, the organization exerts power and control over the images and discourses in which world events are created (Carapico 2000) and, thus, over how donors perceive and react to these events 4 This is an example of the intricate power dynamics between non profit organizations and donors NPOs actively create the discourse they think will produce the most funds, but they decide what these discourses are by recognizing what donors want. Donors have power over these discourses because they decide what images are appealing and by taking away their financial support 5 w hen attention is lost or trust is broken (Gibelman and Gelman 2004). However, they are also affected by the images that NPOs 4 Of course the influence and control of information is not absolute, as donors can find information about a situation through multiple sources. However, what is important is that it is possible for such control to happen, and how this possibility affects the power dynamics between donors and NPOs 5 This is, in fact, what many donors did after the Kony 2012 campaign and a related scandal involving Invisible Children Inc.
18 present to them. In this way, both parties create and consume the discourses of development i n an exchange of power struggle Throughout my interviews this relationship often came up as one that limited the organizat ions and had the power to allow or hinder a project, program, or the mission of the organizations itself. Because of this, the donors impact the lives of the constituents even though both groups rarely interact. The next section will explore this relations hip further. Donor Client Relationship Most often, there is no direct contact between donors and clients. Their relationship exists mostly through the mediation of NPOs, so that donors are frequently giving to an abstract concept of people in need rather t han specific individuals. Th is abstract concept is forged by the organizations, which often create images of their clients that are disempowering, marginalizing and even offensive. Th ese images play up the difference between the clients and the donors, disadvantaged communities (Stirrat and Henkel 1997) and turning the donors in to savior s This can be seen in promotional materials sent out by NPOs, which regularly his way, donors often see clients through the victimized image that is created by organizations. This image frequently dramatizes conditions as much as possible in order t o attain more funds from donors, a common marketing technique (Sontag 2003). For exam ple, w ithin organizations that address the problem of AIDS in Africa, HIV positive people sometimes have to compete for attention as representatives for the cause in order to get the necessary medications for survival (Nguyen 2010). Often, individuals who do not
19 and personal sponsors for themselves because their condition is questioned. Thus, c themselves so that donors consider them worthy of investment; the more extreme their situation seems to be, the better chances organizations have of receiving funds. Because constituents are frequently removed from the donors, it is easy to look past the power relationship inherent in the world system. That is, in the act of giving and receiving, both parties forget that they share global resources, and that if the constituents lack, it is often because the donors have surplus as a result of an unjust economic system (Stirrat and Henkel 1997). In this unequal sharing of res ources, donors control the power dynamics because they control what amount of their surplus they will share with beneficiaries As with the relationship between donors and NPOs, this relationship is not merely one of domination and subjugation. Constituents are speaking out against these images with which they often do not identify. One recent example of this is a spoof campaign ca lled Africa for Norway launched by a group of South African students In the spoof, they use a sentimental music video to ask South Africans to donate their r adiators to freezing Norwegians (SAIH 2012). The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the negativ to address the problems the world is facing we need to do it based on knowledge and www.africafornorway.no/why ). This is an excellent example of people who are considered disadvantaged protesting against the stereotypical representations through which they are often portrayed. More importantly, it attests to their ability to find
20 alternative ways to produce their own discourse and raise awareness of the issues that they find important. N PO Client Relationship One of the biggest problems of the relationship between constituents and non profit organizations is a lack of communication that creates assumed and real ignor ance. Organizations often assume that their constituents lack knowledge of their own conditions and the systems in which they live (Stavig 2010). As a result, many NPOs have decided that the best resource that they can provide is advice and knowledge, which they equate with they seek to impart is frequently ethnocentric, and often reflects a disdain or belittling of traditional or indigenous values 6 Thus, empower ing through knowledge is sometimes It is undeniable that NPOs very often provide important informat ion that empowers constituents and helps them become self sufficient. T he problem is not the desire to provide education when it is needed; the problem is the assumption of ignorance. This can be particularly dangerous because it can result in organization s failing to create a space in which it is possible for constituents to speak and for the staff to listen. Assuming that constituents are ignorant of what is best for them effectively silences them and it d oes not allow for the creation of alternative dis courses. 6 A clear example of this within one of the organizations I worked with will be discussed in the Analysis chapter.
21 This is also dangerous because in their rejection of constituent knowledge, organizations often remain ignorant themselves. This is most obvious in the implementation of programs that reflect a lack of knowledge of the situation. Crewe and Harri son (1998) cite examples of development projects that try to implement stoves that burn fuels that are not available in the area where the project is being implemented. Similarly, they talk about projects that have dietary suggestions that are not availabl e to or embraced by the constituents. Both of these programs could have avoided failing if they had bothered to listen to their constituents. The assumption that the organization is always knowledgeable can also ha ve more serious repercussions. For instance, s ome AIDS organizations that work in African countries have started to deliver two out of the three necessary medicines to their clients in the hopes of reach ing more people. However, without the three components, the cocktail is inefficient and has resulted in the increased frequency of patient deaths and in the risk of creating a strain of HIV that is resistant to the medicine (Nguyen 2010). In cases such a s these, organizations assume that the ir knowledge is dominant and often fail to recogni ze the ir own ignorance Because knowledge is empowering, it would be beneficial for organizations to open up to the knowledge of their constituents in the creation and implementation of programs. Yet, it is important to recognize that sometimes beneficiari es are more concerned with surviving than with empowerment (Chetkovich and Kunreuther 2006; Stavig 2010). S ome people are dependent on service organizations for having access to basic needs. Though the idea that people should advocate for themselves is ver y important, it can be burdening to clients who do not have the time or the desire to take on this responsibility
22 (Chetkovich and Kunreuther 2006). This makes the role of NPOs extremely complicated because organizations must find a balance between empoweri ng the clients by providing spaces of expression, without burdening them with overwhelming responsibility, and distributing resources so that the constituents lack neither empowerment nor basic needs. Social relations within NPOs involve three major players : the donors, the organization, and the clients Previous research has shown that donors have an important es to servicing the clients and their relationship with them. Simultaneously, organizations use the condition of the clients as a means to gain financial support from the donors. In these relationships, as privileged people seek to improve the well being of th ose in need they often end up reinforcing the structures that perpetuate economic, social, and political injustice. Problems with the Study of Non Profit Organizations As the section above demonstrated, the re are no easy answers in the complicated world of non profits This explains why non profit organizations have gained so much attention within academia. Nevertheless, there have been important aspects of the subject that have been neglected within the various studies that I have encountered, and which I hope to address in my own study. Very few studies focus on service organizations operating domestically in the United States. Gibelman and Gelman (2004) focus on the United States in their study of corruption, but mostly in comparison to other countries. As stated in the introducti on, this outside of the hegemonic nations. It can neglect how people within the United States are
23 marginalized and neglected, and how inequality is reproduced locally as w ell as internationally. Another, perhaps more important, hole in previous research is the lack of voice of the clients. Many studies focus primarily on the organizations and talk about clients in the peripheries. been criticized for being too businesslike (Fisher 1997), but other alternatives such as Chetko vich and Kunreuther 2006), but in a research study, t his could confuse general clients with the specific participants of the study. For this reason, though I acknowledge it is problematic, I have decided to use When speaking about the organizations I studied, I use clients/members, in accordance to how the y were labeled in the organizations. The fact that there is no name that accurately and sensitively describes thought and space they have been given to contribute to the dialogue of aid. For this reason, a crucial part of my study is interviewing both the staff and the clients of the organizations. Though this study criticizes non profit organizations extensively it is not out of the idea that they should not exist. Rather, it is out of the recognition that these organizations play an important role in modern society. If we are to continue seeing these organizations as the solution to our problems, we must first make sure that they do not contribute to the problems themselves. Hence, we must study them carefully and bring forth suggestions for improvement.
24 Chapter 3: Methodology In order to understand the mechanisms through which NPOs participate in the perpetuation of unequal so cial relations, I observed two structurally different organizations in the United States. Organization A was a service based organization with a more vertical structure, and Organization B 7 was a grassroots organization that sought to have a more participa tory approach. An understanding of the shape of social relations is best achieved through semi structured interviews. Q ualitative interview s a llow for in depth discussion s field observ ations (Babbie 2007). Interviews p narratives and discourses and a better understanding of how they conceive their relationship with each other. This chapter is dedicated to a detailed explanation of the methodology I used in my research, as well as a more in depth description of the organizations and the participants that were part of this study. These descriptions are essential to understanding how the structure of the organizations affected the relationship between the staff a nd the clients, and the ways in which they both perpetuated and counteracted the reproduction of inequality and hierarchies. Organizations Though b oth organizations are located in Florida, work with immigration issues, and have similar constituents they are very different. Grassroots organizations often work to create client involvement in the organization of programs, while social service 7 Their names have been erased to protect their identities.
25 organizations tend to neglect this aspect and rather provide material support ( Chetkovich and Kunr euther 2006). The selected organizations followed this model and enable d me to observe how structurally different organizations relate to their clients Organization A Organization A is a local office of a larger non profit organization that operates internationally as well as nationally It is a service based organization that was founded over 50 years ago and that is mostly government funded. I chose it because its national work is localized, which allowed me to observe how an internat ional organization localizes its projects n ot only in the developing world, but also in a developed nation The organization has a set of broad goals but shapes its programs to the needs of the communities it serves. In the city where I did my research, t hey help refugees resettle into the United States. At first, it was extremely hard to get in touch with leaders in the organization in order to request their participation in my study. I called several numbers, left messages, and wrote e mails but none of them were answered. Finally, I had to go through an acquaintance that had volunteered with them to get a response. Though I first felt inclined to criticize this lack of accessib ility, after working with them and hearing what the clients said of them, I venture to say that this experience is not reflective of how they treat their clients.
26 The first staff member that I interviewed and observed was Manuel a 8 who introduced me to so me of the se rvices that the organization offers to the ir clients. Most of the clients are recently arrived refugees from all over the world. There are also people who have been granted political asylum, and residents of the U.S who are seeking to become ci tizens and need some help with the necessary transactions. There are no one time clients, and how long a client stays in the organization depends on how long it takes them to reach their goal (successfully relocating within the country, receiving citizensh ip, etc.). Only one of the clients I interview ed fell into the latter category, the rest were refugees. The main focus of the organization was to help refugees settle into the U S. by assisting them in the acquisition of necessary documents such as work permit s, s and Greencard s T hey also help clients become established in the ir communities by guiding them through processes like enrolling their kids in school, filling out job applications, and understanding the public transportation system. Additionally, they provide financial and material aid. For the first four to six months (depending on whether they can find a job) they assist their clients financially to help them with bills, groceries, and other basic need s. They also provide guidance in finding a job, and give them material donations. I was invited to participate in one of the furniture donations, where the families were invited into the warehouse to pick furniture for their homes. Most items were donated by f urniture stores because they had been slightly damaged in transportation. The donations also included clothes, books, and miscellaneous things. All mattresses and underwear had to be 8 All names presented in this study are pseudonyms created by the researcher to protect the identity of participants. I have also changed the gender identity of some of the participants in cases where gender could be used to identify them.
27 new, and a staff member evaluate d all donated items to make sure they were in good condition In addition to observing the donation process, I also observed two client caseworker meetings. The first meeting was with a recently arrived Cuban family that was coming to the organization for the first time. This meeting took around 3.5 hours since the caseworker covered the basics of all the transactions extensively and in detail, clarifying how the organization worked and the conditions of service. The second me eting was with a returning client who had come to the U.S. two months before and who was well on his way to being established. This meeting had a very different feeling from the other one since the starting clients seemed much more withdrawn and uncomfort able From the it seemed like th is was the case for most people, and that with time the clients become more and more comfortable. Overall, my experience with everyone in Organization A was extremely positive. Everyone, both staff and clients, were very welcoming and friendly, and were more than willing to help me. It pleased me to see how dedicated the staff members were and how satisfied the client s were with the treatment and services they had received Organization B My experience with Organization B was just as positive as my experience with Organization A despite the organizations being starkly different Organization B is a grassr oots social change organization that matched defini They organize d campaigns
28 around housing, immigration, and gender violence 9 ; issues that were pivotal for the c ommunity in which they served. Contrary to Organization A, it was not difficult to establis h initial contact with the people in Organization B, which reflects on the difference between the availability of both organizations. However, it also shows how circumstances affect accessibility because after my initial contact it was very difficult to get in touch with them 10 As with organization A, the ir initial inaccessibility does not reflect on the accessibility and availability of the staff to the members. Whenever I co ntacted them, they were cordial, friendly and very eager to help. One of the most important distinctions between Organization A and Organization B, is that Organization B does not have clients but, rather, paying members. Even though I had explained my project and sent them copies of the c onsent form ( which explains the purpose of the study and the interviews) no one in the organization told me this until I met with them in person 11 Though unforeseen, this staunch difference makes the comparison more interesting since the models of the organizational structure and social relations a re completely opposite. This difference in the roles of the constituents exemplifies an important way in which structure changes the relationships and dialogues in organizations 9 Recently, the organization has started to implement programs to provide services to their members and to the community. These programs, as of the moment consist mainly in getting peopl e in contact with a legal clinic. 10 In their defense, one of their phone towers had fallen and they had lost service for some of the time I tried to call them. 11 This sort of misunderstanding was repeated throughout my research experience. Even though I ex plained my project through phone conversations, e mails, the consent form, and face to face interactions many participants still seemed to misunderstand what it was about. Before I clarified it again, one of the staff members from Organization A thought th at I was doing research on refugees rather than the organization itself.
29 This allows for a comparison of how the models of inclusion affect the relati onships between the staff and the clients/members. In order to be part of the organization, members pay an annual fee of $20 and are as active as they choose or are able to be. Gabriella, one of the staff members, described the level of participation as divided into four categories: general member which is just anyone that signs on to our avocation and or two things a year [...], we also have more active members and [they] have a bit more knowledge of the organization and the y come out a little we have [...] core activists [who] are really deep into the organization the p olitical gratification sessions that we do [...]. Then we have our [...] grassroots leaders and [they] have an extremely high level of unity with happens here and they actually help bring in new members, [...] and participate in various [...] le ( BS3 ) 12 hierarchy within the membership itself. To different extents members have an imp ortant role in the organization is made up of 50% plus 1 members, so that members are part of the most important decision mak ing body of the organization. The Steering Committee is also completely made up of members. Both of these are positions that members run and vote for. The fact that they are able to participate in the electoral process of the organization is an important T here are also several committees 12 An explanation of how the interviews are categorized can be found in the Interviews section of this chapter.
30 that focus on specific tasks, like the planning of social events. Finally, t here are campaign committees that focus on specific issues. Members join the committee of the issue that they care about the most and take part in the decision making process es of that specific campaign. The members help organize and participate in campaigns and rallies that seek to raise awareness and change laws surrounding their main issues of focus. Another important difference between the organizations is that Organization B does not receive any money from the federal government which, as An nie put it, was both positive and negative since they are not limited by federal regulations but they also do not have a steady source of funding. To sustain itself, the organization relies mainly on donations and foundation grants which in itself can be limiting In addition to the interviews in organization B, I attended a Martin Luther King Day parade in which they participated and one of their Discussion Circle s 13 on ending gender violence. At the parade, they were one of the most enthusiastic and engaging fl oats, chanting about issues like housing and unemployment that resonated with the predominantly black and Hispanic/Latino populations in the lower income nei ghborhood where the parade took place. In the Discussion Circle I observed both how the organization framed and constructed its mission and how they related to their members. When I first arrived to the meeting place there were an employee and a member s etting things up. If I had not known who they were I would not have noticed any difference in their roles. There was no noticeable hierarchy of power in this particular task. I believe that this is very indicative of the type of social relation that the st ructure of the organization permitted and encouraged. 13 The actual name has been changed in order to protect the
31 Of course, that is not to say that every task in the organization re flected this horizontal dynamic but rather, that there are areas in which this dynamic is possible. Another interesting aspect of the Discussion Circle is that it was conducted in Spanish and translated into English by one of the staff members using headsets. From what one of the members remarked, the meetings are usually done in English with translations into Spanish. However, it is still very interesting that every meeting is translated from one language to the other, and that an effort is made to allow both groups to communicate and share ideas with each other. This made the meeting longer and more tedious because everything had to be said twice but it allowed for the group to feel unity. As with Organization A, my overall experience with O rganization B was very positive and I was able to see how dedicated the staff and the members were and how satisfied they felt with the organizati on as a whole. Having gained a sense of the organizations, I now turn to discuss the individual participants of my study, my sampling methods, and my interviews. Participants In order to successfully compare two structurally different organizations, it was imperative that both organizations dealt with similar issues. It was also necessary that the cl ients of both organizations had similar demographics in order to control for variables spective. To this end, I chose to interview clients that identified as Latino or Hispanic. The only other criterion was that they be older than 18 years old as I am interested in the adult experience with participatory practice. Due to the small sample, t here were no inclusion criteria for the staff other than having to be of legal age I sought people who had different jobs within
32 the organization and interacted with the clients in various levels, so a s to get different perspectives. In the end, I had 18 participants, nine for each organization, of whom four were staff members and five were clients/members. In O rganization A, every single one of the participants, was Latino/a and t heir ages varied between 25 and 53, with the median ag e being 45 Four of the clients were Cuban 14 and one was Colombian. The nationalities of the staff were somewhat more varied, with a Colombian a Puerto Rican and two Cubans. In O rganization B, all participants were minorities, but they were not all Latino /a. The members were immigrants from various nationalities: a Colombia n a Mexican a Puerto Rican a Uruguay an, and an indigenous Costa Rican. Of the staff, there were two black Americans, one mixed race American, and one Mexican 15 Their ages varied from 26 to 82, with the median age being 47. Overall, the demographics of the participants in both organizations were very similar, especially between the clients and the members, who were almost all immigrants and Latino/a 16 This made it easier to control for cultural factors in the way client /members perceived social dynamics with the staff members. However, I do think it would have been beneficial to include the black members of Organization B, since they 14 Though their race as it would be defined in the United States varied none of the participants identified themselves in terms of race or skin color but rather in terms of ethnicity (Hispanic). It is also important to note that many of them expressed being uncomfortable with the term Hispanic since it was not what they were used to, but they still used it. This demonstrates their forced adaptation into the system, even as it pertains to how they view themselves. 15 For these categorizations, I use the terms t hat the participants used to identify themselves. 16 It can be problematic to include the indigenous participant in this group because he identified himself as indigenous rather than Latin American and has a different cultural perspective and experience th an other non indigenous Latin Americans. He was a native Spanish speaker and shared a stronger cultural identity with the Latin American members than with the rest of the members. However, it is important to note the difference and not place him in a categ ory that he avoided when he defined himself.
33 constituted a significant population of the membershi p and could have contributed a different perspective of the internal relations of the organization. Sampling Because I was working with four different groups of participants, it was necessary to use varying sampling methods, though most of them worked through reference and snowball sampling For practical purposes, I will separate the description of my sampling methods by organization and by clients/members and staff. Organization A Because staff information is public and acce ssible, I initiated contact with the organizations through the staff. Since the staff all knew each other very well, once I had established contact with one of them, it was very easy to contact the others. T he first person I contacted in Organization A was Melanie. Once I was in contact with her, I was able to meet other staff members and snowball. I will call the four staff members that I interviewed Melanie, Manuela, Andrea, and Ally. All of the staff members were very easy to get a hold of and were all m ore than willing to participate in my study The sampling methods I use d to contact the clients of Organization A were more varied I approached most of the clients while I was attending diffe rent events at the organization, like the furniture donation and the client/caseworker meetings. Another inte rview came from a client that I met Other interviews resulted from client references. The names I have given to these five clients are Emilio, Miranda, Catalina, Armando, and Carlos. Of course, I specified to every single client that the interview was completely voluntary and confidential
34 Organization B For O rganization B the sampling was much more straightforward for both staff and members After succeeding in establishing communication with one staff member I merely had to wait for her to ask the rest of the staff if they would be comfortable with me study ing the organization. After the staff had consented, she e mailed me and gave me their names, contact information, and po sition within the organization. Once I had the contact information, I e mailed and set up an interview with four staff members, whom I will call Sara, Hannah, Gabriella, and An nie. Since there are only eight staff members in the organization, my sample consists of 50% of the total staff population The sampling for the clients was somewhat similar. Because I had no exposure to the members I had to rely on the staff to provide me the contact information of members that met my criteria. I set up an interview with five members : Romina, Fernanda Adriana, Bianca, and Amanda, s ome of whom belonged to the Board and /or the Steering Committee. This sampling method could be problematic be cause all of the members that the staff put me in contact with were active in the organization and could have had different opinions than non active members. However, because of their different positions, the members I interviewed had varying ex periences a nd perceptions of the organization. Once I had established contact with the participants, the next step was to conduct the interviews. In the next section I explain in deta il the entire interview process. Interviews Qualitative research i s the best approach to explore interpersonal relations because it allows for the flexibility to attain information that one had not anticipated, and it provides a way for participants to talk in detail about their experiences. Therefore, I used
35 semi structured interv iews with open ended questions, relying on probes whenever it was necessary to clarify or expand on a response 17 The questions asked about the staff relationship with e ach other 18 There were two different sets of questions: one for the staff and one for the clients/members. Both sets of questions begin by asking abo ut the organization in general (what its mission is, what types of services it offer s etc ), and go on to ask about the experience in the organization. L ater it moves into perception of the r elationship between the organization and the clients/members ( whether tituents, etc. ). Afterwards, the questions move away from the general organization to the specific staff client relationship. The staff members are asked to talk about their p ersonal experience with clients; how often they meet with them, whether they spen d as much time with them as they would want to, whether they have had a problem with a client, how much input the clients have and so on. Similarly, the clients are asked to talk about their experien ces with specific staff members; whether they meet with t hem enough, whether they feel they have enough input, and how accessible they feel the staff is. Finally, the interview ends by asking for generic demographic information: age, race and ethnicity, and gender identity 19 17 Please see Appendix B for the interview guides. 18 would be the second staff member of Organization B that I interviewed. for both organizations, even though Organization B has members instead of clients. 19 In the end, I decided to not ask participants about their gender identity because I felt that most of them would be insulted if I questioned their gender, especially when it came to male participants who would feel that I was putting their masculinity in doubt. Though I do not co ndone this type of patriarchal and sexist
36 These sets of questions are similar f or both staff and clients/members because it allows for a comparison between the perspectives of both parties Both sets of questions were translated into Spanish in order to provide the participants with the option to choose the language that they were m ore comfortable with. This was especially important since there was a possibility that many participants would not be fluent or compl etely comfortable with English. In the end, I conducted six interviews in English and twelve in Spanish. All of the interviews in English were of staff though there w ere staff members who chose to conduct them in Spanish This option was necessary because the participants would not have been able to fully participate in the creation discourse if they could not express themselves fluently. L anguage filters the way we conceptualize and perceive the world Thus, d iscourse shou ld be created in a language in which the person is comfortable with so that their perceptions are not lost in translation. This is especially important in the creation of subaltern discourse, such as the one the clients/members are creating. That is, withi n the world of non profit s c lients can often be disregarded and have a much less active role in the creation of realities and discourses than the staff. I sought to ameliorate this, however slightly, in my study, by interviewing the clients as opposed to only staff members and providing a language option to the participants. Of course, there are limitations and problems to this approach namely, that it limits the demographics of the participants to the knowledge of the investigator. I choose to work wi th Latino /a immigrants because this is the only population that I could speak to in mentality, I did not feel that I had the right to disrespect people who had allowed me into their home and granted me their time.
37 their native language. Other immigrant groups, such as Haitians, were excluded from this study for this reason, amongst others. However, the benefits of this approach outwe igh the problems, so I incorporated it into my methodology. Through these 18 interviews I was able to gain insight into the inner workings of both organizations, and the dynamics of the social relations that constituted them. My findings and analysis will be presented in the next chapter.
38 Chapter 4: Structure and the Reproduction of Social Hierarchies When I first started working on this project I was prepared to encounter people in the organizations who would em body everything that I had criticized about the world of nonprofits: people who act out of self interest, believe they are superior to their constituents, and seem to ignore the structural problems which oppress and marginalize the people they claim to be helping. My experience, however, turned out to be different. I found that the staff of both organizations was truly committed to their causes and that they had a very positive relationship with their clients/members. I also found that both organizations op erated within a philosophy of respect that seemed to be adopted by all the employees and that was transmitted to the constituents. This study gave me faith in nonprofits. Nevertheless, it would be erroneous to assume that just because the client staff rela tionships were positive and respectful there were no problems within the organizations. Talking generally about these problems is difficult because they were very different for both organizations, as their different structures gave way to different dynamic s. However, it can be said that in both organizations there are some discrepancies betwe en how the staff perceive the amount of voice clients/members had in it and how the clients/members themselves perceive it Whereas the staff members seemed to think th at there was enough constituent participation, many clients/members felt that they did not have enough influence, or they were unaware of whether there were spaces of expression within the structure of the organization. Moreover, in both organizations, the spaces of expression that did exist were mediated rather than direct. There was still a hierarchy of decision making and a lack of direct spaces for clients/members to
39 contribute to the discourse of the organizations. However, the extent to which these hi erarchies existed differed and depended greatly on the organizations goals, strategies and resources some of the main factors that are influenced by structure. Therefore, the structure of non profit organizations has a definite impact on the social relations within organizations and the extent to which the broader hierarc hies and inequalities of society are reproduced within them. In order to fully understand the relationship between the staff and the clients/members, I present an in depth comparison of the impact that structure has on by focusing on these aspects. I n a later section, I e xplore the discourses created by the people within the organizations focusing on the way they present themselves and other organizations, as well as the concept of the organization as a family, and their discourse of empowerment. Finally, we will finish w ith a discussion on the spaces of the expression that exist within the organizations. Understanding Structures: The Goals and Strategies of the Organizations In this section I explore how the structural differences of the two organizations affect their missions, their visions and, most importantly, their relationships with their clients/members. I begin by discussing the different goals of the organizations, since this affects their mission. For Organizat ion A, the main goal was to provide services to their clients, whereas for Organization B it was to fight against systems of oppression. This difference ultimately colored and informed most aspects of the organization, including their action strategies, th eir discourse, and their social relationships.
40 Goals The organizations differed greatly in their missions and goals. Organization A, as a service organization, worked to help political refugees resettle into their new life in the United States. Organizati on B as a grassroots organization, was dedicated to organizing for social change around the issues of housing, immigration, and gender violence. Both organizations worked with communities in which there was great need and which faced many difficulties, an d both wanted to help people improve their lives. However, the way that they conceptualized their mission and what they wanted to achieve was completely different. Organization A : The mission of Organization A was mainly to help its clients adapt and become part of the system They provided people with basic needs, such as job placement housing, furniture, clothing, and spending money for 4 6 months. The people in the organization worked with federal money and with federal programs in order to provide services to their clients. Because their clients were political refugees and asyle e s, t hey had a significant amount of government support and acceptance. They were all people who had been accepted into the government system in one way or another These goals resonated with those of the clients of the organization, who simply wanted assistan ce in the transactions necessary to become part of the U.S. system. The clients often expressed having a very hard time starting a new life; mostly because they were so unaware of how the governmental system worked and the best way to get through all the n ecessary processes. For these individuals, t he organization was an enormous help in reaching their goals of adapting to a new life. As one client expressed
41 "I consider [the organization] imagi ne coming 20 The clients saw the organization as necessary, especially because they had no knowledge of the system, both the clients and the staff saw the organization as an orienting vessel in the adaption to a new country and a new life. Organization B: Fighting the System of the system. Contrary to the clients of Organization A, the members of Organization B were not seeking help i n the transactions necessary to become part of the system, but were seeking to change a system that had rejected them. The members of Organization B were mostly undocumented immigrants, battered women, racial minorities, and economically disadvantage d peop le that had experienced marginalization in some form. They were not accepted into the government system and, therefore, sought to protest and change a system that had continuously neglected them Several members recounted stories of systemic abuses that they had experienced. For example, o ne member, Amanda, narrated an incident of police abuse: they lock your arms on the back. I said 21 20 Quotes marked by an asterisk have been translated from Spanish. Please see Appendi x B for t he original and translated text. 21 I added this word to the quote to clarify what she meant, which was made clear in our conversation by her gestures but which is lost in the text.
42 and the only thing I did 22 was not be able to renew my license and Most members had experienced violent abuses and had not had access t o justice. In fact, many of the members decided to join the organization after such experiences. For example, Bianca would earn $9 23 For the members, the organization provided a space to speak out against these abuses and a way to participate in social action that would improve their lives contrast s perpetuated by unfair rules and discriminat ory practices. The differences between the goals of the organizations are significant for this study because they inform and affect the values, behavior, and internal dynamics of the organizations. Moreover, these goals lead to differences in the organizat ions Strategies T he strategies the organizations used to fulfill their missions differed greatly, informing and influencing the way they interacted with th eir constituents. Organization A, being a service based organization, was much less democratic and focused on making sure that the services were provided efficiently and that the needs of the clients were met. 22 onnotation. 23
43 Organization B, on the other hand, was more co ncerned with providing their members opportunities for leadership and expression. Organization A : Ensuring Efficiency Organization A had a very organized and systematic approach to achieving its mission. Part of this approach was heavily regulated by the government The government decided the number of cases they could take each year, the maximum amount of money they could spend on each case, for how long they could provide services to each family, and what types of services they could provide to their clients. The individual caseworkers did have some say in certain criteria but i t was very limited Strict regulations al lowed for the efficiency necessary to serve more than 700 families 24 per year, but it leaves little to no room for client participation a nd feedback. The clients went into the organization, filled out the forms, k ept up with the criteria, and received their benefits. It was very much a transactional process in which each party exchanged something in return for something else. This transacti on model allows the organization to be effective and to service as many families as they can, which is their ultimate goal. They also do a wonderful job at keeping the interaction with the clients personal and warm. All of the clients reported that the sta ff treated them in a very familiar and respectful way, and made them feel welcome: 24 Note that this number reflects families rather than individuals.
44 objective and I achieved it, and, yeah, they are always willing to help you wi s a great serv As is evidenced by the last quote, part of the reason why clients are so satisfied is because of how efficiently the whole operation of the organization is. Because clients are dealing with processes that directly determine their opportunities (i.e. job permits, school registrations, English classes), it is important that they are done in a timely manner so that clients can get settled into the system as fast as possible. In this way, the organization's bu siness transaction model was fitting to the staff and client goals However, this model sometimes disables staff from preserving the human contact aspect of the transaction which they recognized as important. T he staff members are often limited by the time so they cannot spend much t ime wit h each individual client : to be very brief with them (AS3). This means that they can serve more people, but also that individuals are not receiving as much personalized attention. Thus, though the staff wanted to have a personal experience with the clients, they were often limited by a structural model which focuses on efficiency. This lack of personalized attention often reflect ed the ethnocentric and narrow views of a directive mostly composed of white, middle class males. The entity makes decisions that do not reflect the lived experiences and realities of many of the clients. This is illustrated by a story that Manuela told me of a family of Burmese refugees who had n o use for the furniture provided by the organization, since they ate sitting down on the floor and did not sleep in mattresses. Even when the caseworkers realized that the family had no use for the furniture they still had to provide it because it was part of the
45 requirements set up by the directive. As Manuela put it, )*. This incident illustra tes the types of problems that a lack of communication with the caseworkers and staff can create, and why there needs to be a better dialogue between the people who are receiving the services and the people who are providing them. It also shows the strengt hs and weaknesses of the strategies of the organization, which are very efficient and uniform, but can sometimes fail to reflect individual needs. Lastly, it illustrates the dangers of an ethnocentric approach to aid, in which the real needs of clients are obscured by the assumptions of cultural superiority that imposes Western value systems upon others Organization B : Change t hrough Participation Because the mission and vision of organization B was to create systemic social change, their strategies of action were completely different. They acted by organizing rallies, protests, and awareness campaigns on different issues. Some of their actions were broadly focused on general issues and some were focused on helping specific individuals from the community that were victims of institutional abuses. Part of their organizing efforts like the Discussion Circles previously discussed centered in creating spaces of discussion on issues they considered important. More recently, the organization has started to add services to their strategy by referring people to a legal clinic. An important strategy that the organization uses to ensure the inclusion of its members is the creation of campaign committees. Members join the campaign committee for their main issue of interest. In this way, the organization seeks to include even
46 members who are not part of the Board or the Steering Committee (whether this strategy works is another matter). T his model puts member voice before productivity, aware of [It] slows down the process of making decisions and developing plans but it more than pays off in his staff member, Hannah, believes that, in the end, this enga gement and ownership over the work itself, and when you have that ownership and engagement with the work, people take on more responsibility and you can actually get a hilosophy starkly contrasts Organization A transaction mod el, mainly because both models reflect the organizations Another important difference between the organizations was that Organization B did not receive government funding and thus, was not regulated by the government. This is a big advantage because it allows the people in the organization more freedom and flexibility to change their strategies according to individual needs and circumstances. However, this does not mean that the org anization was not regulated and that it did not face limiting problems similar to those of Organization A since t here were still practical decisions that were made by the Board, which limited the actions of the organization. Because of this, Organization B was often limited by donors and foundations in the same way organization A was limited by the government. In the end, the people or institutions that funded the organizations had power over what the people in the organizations were able to do. It also me ant that the organization had to deal with the financial limitations that kept them from carrying out all their desired projects. Both the members and the staff
47 expressed frust ration about these limitations, especially when it came to projects that were st arted but left unfinished. When talking about this one of the members, Bianca, expressed mistrust of the people at the top of the organization, blaming them for the failures and abandonment of projects and implying they are not committed to the cause. 25 but from the people on top who let it go and leave it behind [...] But not because of them, because of the people on top. And on top is...? Th e Board and the ones who define the budget, the programs. The ones who actually have the power 26 This situation is especially interesting considering that the majority of B oard members (50% plus 1) are members of the organization. B laming the board implicates some members as part of the failure. Clearly, Bianca and other members did not see the Board as a democratic body, a fact that will be discussed in later sections. Evidently, the se organizations use ve r y different strategies i n order to achieve their divergent goals and missions immediate needs in an efficient manner leads it to develop rather rigid rules regarding the services it provides empower its members lea ds it to hold rallies, protests, and awareness campaigns moved forward by its member s. However, it also leads to members having different amounts of influence The relationship between staff and clients /members is not only observed through the organization strategies but also through t he discourse both groups produce. 25 The staff members. 26 Emphasis added.
48 Discourse The discourse of an organization can provide insight into how the people within it understand themselves and others, and how they construct the organization as a part of society and the world at large. This section begins with the exploration of the general discourses of the organizations, comparing the organizations to each other, and the staff to the clients/members. Afterwards, it discuss es how the organizations talk about each other, and the more specific discourses of family and empowerment. Self representation within the organizations Though the people of both organizations produced some similar discourses, they were for the most part significantly different. Th eir similarities are mostly in how they presented themselves and their mission as they b oth believed they were ma king a change very differently. work, whereas Organization B used discourse heavily influenced by theory and ideology. As such, their discourse clearly reflected their structural models, especially when it cam e to placing the organizations in relation to government systems. Organization A: Practical and Direct Organization A had a fairly straightforward discourse that was more concerned with practicality and efficiency than with theory. However, this does not mean that the people within the organization were blind to the shortcomings of the system. The staff was very aware of the structural problems that caused their clients to be in a position of disadvantage, and of the limitations disadvantaged populations f aced in general. Manuela commented on the inefficiency of the system in creating fair chances and helping people
49 improve their situations. According to her, though the government provided people with programs, it often neglected to provide those people wit h ways to take advantage of them: children, but, but, but. And 80 problems arise and then the person says ause 27 And it is in this way that the system, even though it has a lot of aid, has no In her speech, she recognizes not only that the system has limitations, but that the clients themselves se e these limitations. The clients of the organization also shared this awareness of how the system limited them. For example, one of the clients, Miranda, spoke to me about her difficulties with getting a job because of the limitations of the system: references or job experience [...] so we put the five years 28 in Cuba but (AC2)* As can be seen, Miranda recognizes that it is a flaw of the system that does not let her advance, rather than her personal shortcomings. Thus, both the clients and the staff recognized the limits of working within the system. However, the goal to provide services that are immediate and necessary prevents Organization A from making it its main priority to work against social injustices. The o rganizati on presents itself as fulfilling necessary needs and helping 27 Emphasis added. 28 This is in reference to having to list your places of employment for the last five years on job applications.
50 people settle in to a new life and become self sufficient. Self sufficiency is very important to the staff, and many of them recognized this as the main goal of their work. Manuela talked about how many of the regulations and processes are there so that [the clients] star t to understand but how to become involved in their This statement is problematic, as it illustrates an assumption that clients are unaware that they are responsib le for their own success. But it also shows that the staff members see their main job as providing temporal help to clients as they become independent. T he clients produced the same discourse as the staff members. They seemed to have internalized the mission of the organization and iden tified it as a temporary help that would aid them while they were getting settled in. Some even expressed disapproval of people that wanted to rely on the organization for longer than they had to, think that everyone should stand on their own. This is a small help to find your way initially but no one should [...] pretend to l ive from [the help [...] because if we turn this into an income source then people would not be interested in worki As can be seen, the discourse of the staff members, and clients, was very similar. All of them recognized the limitations of the system, but were not concentrated in fighting against it Rather, they were all more concerned with achieving self sufficiency. Organization B: Theories of Change The people of Organization B produced anti establishment discourses that reflected a distrust of authority and the system. They were much more theoretical and academic than that of Organization A, and they focused on radical discourses and issues.
51 For example, many of the interviewees talked about structural issues and social change in terms that could have been found in academic papers. When describing Organization B, Hannah, one of the staff members, stat ed: justice, and gender justice organization that believes that the inequality that we see in [city] and in society broadly is rooted systemically so [...] any indication of inequality or difference, whether across race or gender, is rooted in systemic racism, is rooted in the fundamentals of capitalism, [...] and is rooted in patriarchy 29 [...] Ultimately our theory of change is that if you wanna change you have to address the root cause Hannah is presenting Organization B as a n organization that seeks radical 30 change, and that is conscious of the larger structures of society that are causing the deep inequality that it is trying to eradicate. Beneath all of this, however, Hannah is also sending a message about how the organization is grounded i n theory and academic discourse She happens organization has demonstrates that this type of academic theory is crucial to the identity of the people of the organization, and to how they are interpreting and conceptualizing society at large. One of the most important implications of this engagement with theory is the hyper reflexivity that was present in the organization. Two of the staff members, Gabriella and Hannah, talked abo ut the issue of power dynamics within the organization without having been prompted for such discussion, demonstrating a hyper reflexivity in 29 Emphasis added. 30
52 the way that they conceptualized these dynamics and tried to counter them: society has inherent p ower dynamics, particularly around class and education [...] This hyper awareness of their relative po sitions to the members often resulted in the staff not being sure how to approach problems with the members. Much of their discussions of power dynamics focused on the balance that they must find when dealing with decision making and conflict resolution. As Gabriella put it, ly, would be the power dynamics [...] because we effectively control the resources [...]. [So] w with us bringing down the hammer vs. just trying to have a respectable Gabriella recognizes the power dynamics existing power dynamics between the staff and the members and how these dynamics make conflict resolution challenging. She and the other staff members are often afraid to address issues of tension and conflict because they do not want to be perceived as asserting their authority over the members. However, this can al so be a problem because conflicts can be neglected instead of resolved. This was a concern that was brought up by most of the staff members that I interviewed, all of whom made it a point to explain that there were measures being taken to ensure a more productive approach to conflict resolution. [Staff and member tensions] has been an ongoing issue for us. I don t think that we i n the past dealt with it well. We better; looking at more conflict resolution poli cies have rules, a conduct code, a conflict still
53 This awareness helped the organization dilute the effects of social hierarchies, but it did not eradicate them. The staff members still had, for the most part, a higher education and social class than the members, which meant that the people with the most social capital were still making most of the decisions. I t is also important to note that this discourse was expressed only by the staff and not by the members of the organization This in itself is indicative of the privileged education and class position of the staff over the members. Howeve r, it is still significant to point out that self reflexivity is responsible for much of the organization with change. Change in the organization was the result of discussions and reflections between the staff and the members. In fact, I would argue that self reflection practices were part of the strategy that Organization B used to reach their goal of social change and member inclusion Kapoor (2004) argues that hyper self reflexivity is essential for scholars studying the subaltern in order t o avoid reproducing the intellectual neocolonialism that they often criticize. I believe that this should be applied to non profit organizations as well, and that being hyper self reflexive is the only way organizations can achieve better social relationsh ips. This seemed to also be the mentality of the staff members, who were reflexive of their behavior and the dynamics of their relationship with the members. This is not to say that because Organization B was self reflexive it did not recreate social hiera rchies, but rather, that it took crucial steps towards remediating this From Oblivion to Scorn: How the Staff Members Talked About Other Organizations A very interesting aspect of how the participants presented the organizational identity was their discourse on other types of organizations. The one thing staff in both organizations had in common was that they expressed wanting to fulfill a need that was
54 not being met by other organizations. However, this is the only time that the staff in Organization A seemed to take other organizations into consideration as they thought about their mission and self identity probably because their needs are not intrinsi cally connected to other organizations On the other hand, the staff members in Organization B were keenly aware of other organizations and had partnerships and very close relationships with other grassroots in the area. In fact, many of the meetings happ ened at the headquarters of one of their sister organizations, with whom they worked together on the MLK march. People in Organization B were great at pooling resources with these other grassroots organizations, both in terms of labor force, and material/m onetary goods. They were also very aware that the organization needed to partner up with service organizations. In this way, service organizations were an important part of how they defined what they wanted in the future i.e. being able to provide their m embers with basic needs. However, much of the discourse that Organization B produced about service organizations like Organization A was centered on how, they did not work to create actual change, and w ere un aware of structural inequality. As such, the peo ple in Organization B defined their identity in terms of how they compared to people in service organizations. The way that participants in Organization B constructed service organizations did not give them sufficient credit, and could hinder cooperation. For example, at the Discussion Circle, the participants recognized the importance of work ing with service organizations because they could fulfill a role that the organization could not. However, they expressed this organizations and change their perspective. According to the people of Organization B, service providers had
55 that could be fulfilled by coming into the grassroots space 31 This type of mentality is not very conducive to a cooperative relationsh ip, since it assumes that grassroots organizations are in a higher position than service organizations. Though they do have something to offer, it is also important to recognize that a cooperative relationship should be symbiotic, and one in which both par ties give and take. knowledge. In doing this, Organization B is reproducing the same dominant over knowledge that other non profits exert over their clients. While it is true t hat grassroots focus on structural problems more than service organizations, service organizations also have an important role in the world of aid. Both organizations would benefit from a joint relationship with a differently structured organization. Organ ization B, like other grassroots, would be able to provide services to their members that would improve their quality of life, and also allow them more time to dedicate to organizing campaigns For example, one of the members of Organization B, Amanda, expressed her wish that the organization would provide similar services as the *. On the other hand, Organization A would be able to address issues such as their frustration with time constraints and flaws in the government system. G rassroots organization s like Organization B c ould help clients become involved with their community ; o ne of the Because both types of organ izations 31 Though this section is focused on the staff members of the organizations, it is important to note that members also took part of this discussion and shared this rhetoric.
56 are offering different but very necessary help would come from a cooperative relationship that would allow people to have access to both. Mistrust and Experiences of Abuse: Client/Member Perceptions of Other Organizations Many clients/members had had personal experiences with other organizations and referred to these experiences much more often than the staff. Most of the experiences they recounted besides the work they had done with partner organizations had been negative. Because of this, much of the hostility towards other types of organizations came from the clients/members themselves. This was much more prevalent for members of Organization B than for clients of Organization A. However, both groups expressed negative feelings about their experiences with other organizations, something which could be an obstacle to creating a cooperative relationship but which, most importantly, portrays many o f the grave problems of the internal world of aid. As with the staff, the clients of Organization A barely mentioned other organizations, and most of them had never been a part of an organization before. However, one particular client, Emilio, expressed his dissatisfaction with the way other organizations had treated him. He told me about how one organization had refused to help him because he was part of Organization A, even though the organization had referred him to the other one. H e found this both ridiculous and unfair. In his mind, it cemented the positive image he had of Organization A as an organization that genuinely wanted to help people. This experience illustrates the potential harm that can come from uncooperative relationships between organizations. It also shows that experiences clients have with an organization can leave a lasting impact.
57 The members of Organization B had much stronger opinions about other organizations and had had more impacting experiences. What is most interesting about the way that they spoke about other organizations is that it was always in comparison to Organization B, highlighting how much better and ethical Organization B was: honesty with whi ch they manage that organization. But I have seen in y put the clothes that were donated for the people who lived there bags and took th em through Several other members spoke about similar experiences that they had had with other organizations They remarked how one of the reasons they loved being part of Organization B was because they had had negative experiences t o compare. It should be noted that the members do not speak this way about every single organization since there are several sister and partner organizations that they work with, but it is still a rhetoric that was prevalent when they were comparing Organi zation B to other organizations. I have illustrated how the staff and clients /members speak of other organizations, noting that the people in Organization B are the most critical. In Organization A, both staff and clients seem to have little experience (positive or negative) with other organizatio ns P eople in Organization B have very positive collaborative relationships with other grassroots, but both the staff and the members are vociferous of their critique of other organizations particularly service oriented ones I believe that there is a need for greater collaboration between service and grassroots organizations, but this is difficult when one type of organization belittles the other, and when client/member experience s create significant resentment toward other organizations.
58 The next sections discuss two particular discourses: family and empowerment. These were recurring discourses throughout the interviews and, I believe, reflect the types of relationships that the structures of the organization allowed and forged. The Organization as a Family Most participants, from both the staff and the clients/members, used the concept of family to describe their respective organization. In Organization A the concept of family was more prevalent in the clients than in the staff, and in Organization B it was more prevalent in the staff than in the members. However, individuals within all groups of participants expressed this idea. This, I believe, is very important because it sheds light on how the staff and the clients/members feel about the organization and, most importantly, how they conceptualize themselves within it. Though the idea of family was prevalent in both organizations, they talked about it in different ways. The discourse that centered on the idea of the organization as a presented it reflected a more vertical relationship that echoed the whole structure of the client/staff relationship. On the other hand, Organizat ion B talked about it in a way that referenced their internal conflicts, highlighting their prevalence but underlying it within a context of unity. Organization A : Parental Guidance In Organization A, most of the references to family were made not about the organization as a whole, but about the relationship with the caseworkers and clients. Much of the discourse of family centered in being a source of support for the clients, especially since most of the clients were people who did not have many sources
59 d believing they could count on their caseworker for everything. reborn and as one where the staff members had a sort of parental, caring role. Most clients used the concept of family to describe feeling supported and cared for. For exampl e, one of the clients, Carlos, expressed this sentiment when speaking about t his, c extremely difficult experience of restarting their lives, the caseworkers became a car ing staff and, more especifically their caseworkers rather than the organizat ion itself. The which is most likely due to the fact that they are assigned a personal caseworker with whom they develop a close relationship but do not have close conta ct with the other staff. The staff workers also used the concep t of the family as one of care and unity, and one that reflected the ir perceived didactic role. For example, Andrea explained that she start walking and then run echoes description of the ir experience as one of being born again but which also reflects a vertical structure within the dynamics of interaction. The vertical structure within the social relations is an effect of the structure of the organization itself. This relationship is
60 not surprising in an organization whose purpose is to help people with become independent The staff is there to provide cl ients with advice and help them as they put it problems within the structure of the organization The result is often a paternalistic and infantilizing discourse, much like the ones that scholars have criticized NPOs for. This is highlighted in the cli ents: caring mother 32 Because the organization provide d financial and material aid, they had to make sure that people were not taking advantage of the organization. Man uela explained that when this happens the organization starts a series of sanctions in which financial aid is taken away from the clients until they begin showing some effort to find a job When explaining why the sanctions were in place, she used an analo gy of parental control: if one tells them to go put their toy s away because they have to eat: Then you have to get tough because you know that their nutritional (AS1) Through this analogy s he establishes clients as children who are throwi ng a tantrum because they do not understand that their parents the organization is doing what is best for them. Though it is viable that some clients are taking advantage of the system and not working towards their self sufficiency, it is an extremely in fantilizing rhetoric that very clearly establishes dominance and authority in the hands of the staff. In other words, 32 This also reflects a sexist discourse that perpetuates the stereotypes of women a s caring and men as authoritative.
61 discourse as Foucault (1980) theorized is used by the people in power to maintain and reproduce their position. Therefore, though the c oncept of a family was very positive, particularly for the clients who were very grateful and felt that the organization fulfilled a caring and supportive role, it reflected a well defined vertical structure in the organization in terms of staff client rel ationship. This model portrays an idea of a family where there is a very clear power dynamic and where authority is held fully by the parental figure the organization. Organization B : Fighting is Caring Organization B also had a very interesting concept of family. Like in Organization A, it had a positive connotation of unity and support. One member, Susana, who was part of the Steering Committee, directly related client participation to the idea of famil y. She explained that it was because they were a family that the members had so much power over what happened within the organization When I asked her whether she was satisfied with how much influence the members had lik e a family, everyone unites [...] W e are a Latin@ and Black family, which was very d ifficult at first, a [...] we share ideas. (BC5)*. There are several aspects of her response that I would like to point out and discuss in further length. First, that she tightly connects the idea of being a family to the sharing of ideas and to being united in organizing efforts. In this model of the family the hierarchy and authority figures are not as well defined. Second that she mentioned co nflict as it relates to family.
62 This was a theme that was extremely common in Or ganization B, especially with the staff since, for them, being a family was part of what kept everyone together despite conflicts. They almost talked about con family, with all its dysfunctions, with all its fun times gravity of conflicts, playing them off as insig nificant trifles between family members. Though this may be true, I found it interesting that Sandra described conflicts as which an ex member had threatened to sue he r 33 Even if they were downplaying the gravity of conflicts, it is evident that for the people of Organization B, the concept of family was tightly tied to member participation, voice, and inclusion. As with Organization A, the structure of Organization B is reflected in the staff incorporating constituents and members into daily decision making. Again, it should be ke pt in mind that the goals, strategies and resources of both organizations were different, and that this model would not have been very plausible for Organization A because of the sheer number of people that the organization serves on a yearly basis. To dev elop this type of relationship though I am sure most of the caseworkers would find it ideal would take time and resources from other people in dire need of them. Nevertheless, the 33 It is important to establish this member told me the story to illustrate how the ex member had been abusive and unfair to Sandra who, they maintained, was a wonderful person and had done a great deal to help the ex mem ber.
63 conceptualization of the organization as family clearly demonstrates how t he structure of organizations can influence the micro relations within non profit organizations. Empowerment Another example of how structure affects and dictates important discourse and, thus, ways of knowing powerment. There are similarities in the way that the organizations conceive of empowerment in general. The difference is not of beliefs but, rather, of how the structure of the organizations constrain or conduct their ability to empower, and their strateg ies for doing so. Empowerment is both a goal and strategy for the organizations, though the word in itself is used differently by both. Both organizations wanted to help their constituents gain more power within their community and find a place within it. Because of their different structures, however, they approached this goal in different almost opposite ways. In organization A empowerment was about becoming self sufficient and being able to fend and provide for oneself without the help of the organizat ion, but was not about providing spaces for expression and input from the clients. On the other hand, Organization B approached empowerment by creating spaces of expression and institutionalizing member input, but sufficiency and independence. This reflects the pattern that is present in the goals and strategies of the organizations, and it is directly related to their structures. Organiz ation A : Material Self Suf f iciency In Organization A empowerment was a word that was not frequently present in the discourse of the staff and clients. At first, I thought that this meant that the organization did not pay much attention to empowerment and t hat it was solely focused
64 on providing material aid. However, a closer examination of the transcription of my was often replaced by self sufficiency 34 This sentiment is ech a caseworker is to make sure that I give them that good advice so they can be able to do it on their own, empowering them 35 sufficiency because this was the type of empowerment that fit w ith the structural model of the organization. It was not that Organization A did not equate having spaces of expression to empowerment but that this was not the kind of empowerment that they focused on. When talking about the things she would want to do if she had more resources, Manuela expressed her awareness of the fact that helping clients to survive within the system was not enough, and that there should be systems that also help them reach their potential and develop The staff members thus recognized that this type of empowerment was important and beneficial to their clients, but they considered it secondary to the m ore practical empowerment that was more congruent with their mission statement. This can be seen in the way that Andrea talked about spending time listening and talking to her clients: 34 In terms of the participants, this may also have something to do with the fact that the word in English. 35 Emphasis added.
65 waiting, that came on time. So I try to stick with the basics and if I have the time 36 then I will dedicate that time just to make it a bit, like I said, empowering them more and more every time Andrea clearly values being able to provide clients with spaces of expression and considers this synonymous with empowerment. However, she cannot neglect her job in order to do this and can only listen when there is time. To the st aff, failing to be punctual in meeting with a client is failing to treat that client with respect. Thus, empowerment throug h expression is put in the back burner as more pressing, immediate needs conflict with it. This shows the limitations of the structura l model that favors efficiency over empowerment. By doing this, the structure of the organization limits the spaces of expression in which the clients can voice their opinions. Organization B : The Power of Expression Organization B had the opposite approach to empowerment, putting empowerment through expression before empowerment through financial independence. state that their model seeks to build its base in the community and develop their leadership abilities 37 Sandra, a staff member, described empowerment as the forefront mission of the organization: those people or communit (BS2)*. As can be seen, empowerment was the most important issue and one that was very present in the discourse of the organization. Again, much of this approach had to do 36 Emphasis Added. 37 No citation is provided in order to protect the identity of the organization.
66 with str ucture, since it echoes the importance of building community and giving power to the members that is common in many grassroots organizations. Part of the reason that they are focused on spaces of expression is because most of the members were people who we re marginalized by the governmental system and who had not had many opportunities to voice their opinion and be heard. As another staff member, Hannah, put it: empower people is more I guess than just creating a meeting space, but really encouraging people to kind of brea Therefore, creating opportunities to listen to the clients so that they can express themselves while knowing they are being heard is the priority for the organization. This focus does not mean that Organization B is blind to the basic needs of their members. As has already been discussed, the people of the organization were keenly aware of their need for some way to provide services. However, the mission of the organization is not to provide members with financial independenc e but with the power to fight for a system that would allow them to sustain themselves without assistance. Organization B, in direct reverse of organization A, puts the meeting of basic needs and empowerment through immediate fin ancial independence in the back burner in order to focus on empowerment through expression. The discourses that are present in Organization A and Organization B are an excellent example of how the structure of non profit organizations affects their social relations. As we have seen, the structure influenced how the people in the organizations conceptualized themselves, other non profits, and what they considered a priority. Now that we have discussed discourses that already exist, we turn to the spaces in which these
67 discourses are cr eated, contested, and cemented. The next section will focus exclusively on the spaces for discourse creation that are available to the clients/members. The existence and forms of these spaces are indicative of the amount of power and voice that the client/ members possess. Like the factors that we have already discussed, these spaces are heavily influenced by the structure of the organizations. Spaces for Client/Member Expression and Discourse Creation My discussion has focused on the relationship between and the strategies they use to achieve these goals. Through an analysis of staff and their organization and its activities. I now turn to ex plore what spaces are made available for clients /members to express their views. These s paces are important in the analysis of social relations within n on profit organizations because it is within these spaces that clients/members can contribute to discour se It is therefore the space in which the systematically marginalized and silenced can find a voice. The structure of the organizations directly impacts how the organizations construct and implement client/member power and expression. The structure of Or ganization A placed participation in the sidelines so it would not interfere with the structure dictated that at least ideally participation be a priority in all of the However, there were important similarities between how the organizations
68 client /member voice was filtered. In Organization A the staff act as the representatives, whereas in Organization B the representatives are members themselves. This in itself reflects a core difference in the way that power dynamics are approached because one organization is giving more power to the staff, and the other on e to the members. They are also different in the sense that in Organization A the representative aspect was not institutionalized whereas in Organization B it was. Furthermore, there were within both organizations certain discrepancies between how the sta ff and the clients/members talked about the spaces of expression that existed. In both organizations, the staff seemed to perceive that these spaces were more prominent than the clients/members believed. In Organization A, the clients were unaware that th e spaces for expression that the staff mentioned existed, making these spaces unproductive. In Organization B the staff seemed to homogenize the experiences of the members, so that they considered that because some members had a lot of power, all members d id. perceived their own power. Therefore, there was a hierarchy of power within the two organizations regardless of their structure, though the structure dictated and informed how defined and institutionalized this hierarchy was. Organization A For Organization A, whose goal was to provide services and help the most amount of people, these spaces of expression were not seen as a priority. In fact, it could sometimes even be obtrusive to their mission. As has been discussed in the empowerment section, part of the problem is that listening to people takes time would m ean depriving other clients of services that they desperately need ed Moreover, client expression is not
69 seen as necessary in the understanding of client needs. On the contrary, many of the staff members considered client expression to be obtrusive to the fulfillment of the Most of this sentiment had to do with the perceived hierarchy of kno wledge. Since staff knew more about the United States system, it was assumed that they should speak and that the clients should hear. In a conversation between two caseworkers about a client who had gotten into a bureaucratic problem because she had not li stened to her since, following their advice since they knew the system better. The concepti on of staff superiority of knowledge is also echoed by the clients, who often feel compelled to listen to the staff because they are more knowledgeable. One client, Emilio, stated that part of the reason why he felt he could trust his caseworker was becaus works in the organization, she has lived in this country for many years and has experience It is this experience that the clients value the most, as it gives them the guidance nec essary to nav igate through an unknown system: but the help in terms of living in this country, which is very difficult This perceived hierarchy of knowledge was ther efore legitimized by both the staff and the clients. Though it is undeniable that this sentiment can be justified at times, the problem is that it is generalized to all cases, even though the staff do not always know more than the clients. For instance, o ne of the clients I interviewed explained that his caseworker
70 had not been able to provide him with career information, so that he had had to look for it himself. This resulted in him getting scammed out of a significant amount of the very limited money he had. After this incident, he made sure to provide his caseworker with all the relevant information he found so that she could help other clients. This incident demonstrate s that staff knowledge is not absolute, and it is evidence of the copacetic relation ship that could be formed if the clients were allowed more space to contribute. Unfortunately for the staff, their authority over knowledge of the system often translates into not listeni ng to clients. When I asked the staff if they thought that there should be more opportunity for client input, most staff members said that they did not think so because the clients had no real knowledge of the system and could have very unreal expectations. As Melanie explained : good the way it is only because [the clients] not in touch with reality. [...] I was told once that a particular government was telling people that once they got here they were gonna get a home in [the most affluent part of the city] and a boat. And so they got here and This sentiment was echoed b y most of the other staff members that I interviewed, and most of them, like Melanie, based this assumption on real life experiences. Their concerns were thus not unfounded, and these incidences were unnecessary nuances that took up valuable time. However, this assumption means that any opportunity for the legitimate expression of concerns is lost, and that clients had few ways to communicate what they thought was important and needed. One of the only systematic implementations of expressive space in Organi zation A was a satisfaction survey given to the clients after they exited the program. The survey
71 was a way for the clients to express both the aspects of the program that they had found effective and those that they believed could be improved. Client comm ents were taken into consideration as much as possible in order to improve service and ensure the best possible experience. Though I was unable to see a copy of the survey, the staff themselves expressed some doubts about it Manuela explained that she tho ught that the client evaluation was not very effective because the clients were so grateful for the Because of this, she believed that an outside evaluator would be more effective in helping the organization realize some of its potential areas for improvement: all the good t Manuela raises a good point, since most of the clients are extremely thankful for what the organization has done for them and they might feel ungrateful if th ey were to criticize the organization. This is something that I experienced constantly in my interviews. After making a negative comment about the organization, clients would often add a disclaimer, as if to clarify that they were not ungrateful. However, tendency to construct client knowledge and ideas as unreasonable, unreliable, and unimportant. This suggestion places more faith on an outside evaluator than on the clients. Furthermore, according to Andrea, the survey is not regularly distributed, making this space of expression fairly inefficient. This inefficiency is most clearly reflected in the fact that clients were not aware of the survey. The clients initial reaction to the question of whether they could express themselves was that they had not been asked for their opinion. When I asked about the
72 avenues for expression, I have no idea [...] no one has ever asked me. [...] This is the first opportunity I have to express how I feel [...] about this been out of the program and should have received it. Most of them seemed to have never considered the possibility of expressing their opinions within the organ After meditating on the question a little, many of the clients suggested that if they wanted to express themselves, they could talk to their caseworkers. In this way, the staff acted as representatives to their clients The caseworkers are required to visit the place that their clients are staying in to make sure that everything is going well and that their living situation is decent. During these house visits, the staff are able to see many of the things the cl ients need and lack, either by observation or because the clients themselves tell them. The same happens during the meetings between the caseworkers and the clients, since this is the time where they are speaking more freely and for the longest amount of t ime. During this time, the clients express their problems and concerns to the caseworker. These circumstances place the caseworker in a unique position as a representative to the clients, because it is their responsibility to tell the rest of the organizat ion that which the clients have told them about their concerns and needs. B oth the staff and the clients seemed to place their trust in this system, and consider it effective 38 E ven though this was not an institutionalized space of self expression, it was more effective than the institutionalized survey because it was one that worked with the structure of the organization. However his position could be detrimental because it gives 38 Though for the clients, it may have seen effective because it was the only space of expression available to them.
73 the staff members a tremendous amount of power. As representatives, the staff can decide what information to relay back to the organization, so that they are filtering everything. Even if it is not done consciously, it is possible that a staff member does not give importance to an issue that is crucial to most clients. Thus, it was not guaranteed that client voices would be heard The effect of this can be seen in the discrepancies between how the staff and the clients perceived the existing spaces of expression. Whereas staff members perceived that these spaces existed and were suf ficient, clients did not seem aware of some of these spaces. This gap between the perception of both groups shows that there is a break in communication and that relying on the staff members to represent the clients is not enough. It also portrays the limits of a structure in which practicality takes over the human aspect of the mission. Of course, the organization still needs to be as productive as possible so that it can serve the greatest number of people, but this should not mean that ons should be ignored. Organization B Contrary to Organization A, the structural model of Organization B made it so goals. Because of this, these spaces were institutionalized and part of the everyday interactions between the members and the staff. The organization had various ways of creating these spaces. The one that seemed to be the most important, or at least the one that most staff members mentioned, was the Board. Because more than 50% of the people constituting the Board were members of the organization the y were always ensured to be the majority. Annie explained that, to them, even though having people in the Board with
74 connections was important, havin g the members be part of it was the most important thing. Members also comprised the entire Steering Committee and the planning and campaign committees that focused on specific issues and actions. In this way, the organization sought to include the members in every step of the decision making process. mission statement, and also because of the small size of the organization. Like Hannah sions and campaign decisions, those necessitate collective conversa tion because a ny time you disempower people in a expression would therefore work against the organizat ion. This was also possible because the organization did not serve as many people as Organization A. They had around 350 members, 50 75 of which were consistently active. This means that they were able to provide their members a chance to contribute to the decisions of the organization. This would not be as viable in an organization like Organization A which is serving more than 700 families a year. As has been mentioned, t he spaces for member input in Organization B were institutionalized. The various co mmittees and the Board were implemented as concerted efforts to include the members in the decision making process. However, as with Organization A, many of the spaces for expression functioned through representatives The members who were elected to be p art of the Board and the Steering Committee were expected to act as representatives for the rest of the members. Base m embers were supposed to talk to their elected representatives in order to express any concern, problem, or comment. The representatives w ould then present these to the entire Board and the
75 Steering Committee. However, this system had some limitations. As on e of the representative members commented when explaining how the Steering Committee worked : 39 that are in the Steeri ng Committee are elected by the members S ometimes it but the idea is that they tell th e leaders all of their problems, (BC2)* As we can see, the representative approach can be ineffective because some of the base it can also create problems because of the amount of power this model gives to representat ive members, who can filter and decide what issues are actually important. It is possible that representative members focus on what they personally believe is important instead of what the base membership wants to focus on. The difference with Organizatio n A, however, is that this was not the only way that base members could express themselves, as it was possible for them to speak directly the staff and members at the membership meeting. Thus, base members of Organization B still had alternative routes of expression besides representatives, meaning that there was a higher possibility for discourse creation and member voice. However, the real problem with this method is not its possible inefficiency, but the hierarchy of power it creates among the members. This model makes it so that the base members do not have as much power in some of the decision making processes as representative members. For example, the base members do not get to participate in 39 Steering Committee.
76 decisions such as the setting of the budget, the implemen tation or termination of programs, and the hiring of staff. In theory, the representative members should make these decisions based on what the majority of the membership would want. However, there is no guarantee that this would be the case. It also means that there is an inherent separation in the membership, and that base members will have very different experiences of empowerment and participation than representative members. This h there were mem bers included in that category. Thus, even though the structure of the organization allowed for a significant amount of member input, it also created a hierarchy of power between the members hip that could be problematic and, worse, difficul t to avoid. Though none of my interviewees talked about this hierarchy explicitly, it became apparent through the difference between the responses of the base member s and the representative members T here was much similarity in the way that the staff and t he representative members spoke about member power and input in the organization. Both of these groups perceived member input as an intricate part of the organization and believed that the members had significant amounts of power because they contributed t o all of the decisions of the organization. The representative members considered themselves part of the decision making process because they actually were. The Board is the highest decision making body of the organization, so it was very significant that it was composed of majority members. These members had even more power than the staff members, since they decided who worked for the organization. The problem is that both the representative members and the staff extended this experience to all the members. As has been explained, t he base members were included
77 through electing the representative members and participating in the campaign committees. Though both of these types of inclusion are important, they did not seem to be enough. Base members did not express feeling they had power as much as representative members did. When I asked one of the representative members whether she felt that members had enough input she replied: they 40 are However, when I asked a base member the same question No, My power is my power to work, which I give t groups conceived of memb er power in very different ways, as representative members reported having a lot of power and bas e members reported not having enough. One of the areas in which base members expressed feeling the most disempowerment was when it came to deciding whether a project should be stopped. This was an issue that base members brought up repeatedly throughout interviews, expressing frustration because they often worked for projects only to be told later and without any explanation that the project had been stopped. The staff, on the other hand, believed that the members had an input in this. After hearing some of these complaints from the base members, I explicitly asked one of the staff Hannah, whether the members had any say in what projects would be stopped, to which she replied positively. Through her statement, Hannah expressed being oblivious to the disem powered feelings of many members While she believes that all the members are included, some of the base members sometimes. And 40 input. This highlights th e separation between representative and base members.
78 then t (BC1)*. Because of my limited time in the organization and interaction with the staff and the members, it is difficult to know how universal this experience was. The base members that I spoke with expressed these ty pes of feelings, particularly around this subject, but I cannot be completely sure that this is how most base members feel. I believe that the major source of this discrepancy between the perceptions of base members, and staff and representative members is caused by a generalization of experience. The problem is that both the staff and the representative members seemed to collapse the experience of representative members into the general experience of all members. In other words, because some members are pa rt of the Board, the staff and the representative members claimed that all members have the highest position of power within the organization. This seems to simplify the dynamics between the members, and also to erase the individual experiences of base mem bers. This disconnect reflects the flaws of a system based in representatives and shows how there is a hierarchy of power that has been created within the membership. It is thus possible to see how the structure of non profit organizations directly affect s the spaces of client expression that exist within them. For Organization A, there were no efficient institutionalized spaces because client inclusion was not an intricate part of the organizational model or goals. Instead, the clients could express thems elves through the case workers, who acted as representatives, in an informal space of expression. Even this space, however, had problems because it legitimized staff knowledge and expression more than client voice. In accordance to its structure,
79 Organizat ion B had multiple institutionalized spaces of expression such as the Board, membership meetings, and campaign committees. Many of these spaces also relied on representatives, who were members elected to be part of the Board and the Steering Committee. Th ough this model of representative democracy is more engaging than within the membership. Needless to say, this is extremely problematic. Conclusions In this thesis, I have tried to contribute to the exploration of the question of whether the structure of non profit organizations affects the social relations within them. Through this analysis of the structure, discourse, and spaces for expression of org anizations I argue that the structure of non profit organizations has a marked influence in the social interactions and the power dynamics between the staff and clients Though the structure did not affect whether organizations reproduced broader hierarch ies within their social relations, it did affect the extent and manner in which these hierarchies were reproduced. The dynamics of both organizations differed greatly, mostly as a result of their differing structure s Because the purpose of Organization A was to provide services to as many people as possible, the approach of the organization was a more pragmatic one, favoring efficiency and productivity over spaces for client input. On the other hand, ople that had been systematically marginalized, so they favored member input over productivity and over expanding the number of people that they reach.
80 Structure also influenced the type of discourse that was being produced by the staff and the clients/me mbers of both organizations. Organization A used straight forward, pragmatic discourse that reflected its structure and organizational goals. When defining itself, it did not take into account other types of organizations. In contrast, Organization B produ ced discourse that was heavily engaged with theories of power, change, and marginalization. It also constantly pitted itself against service organizations when it was defining itself, often comparing its own dedication to structural change to service organ Band Aid Besides these broader discourses of self definition, the people of the organizations used similar concepts when speaking about the social relationships, albeit in different ways. The two concepts that I chose to focus on are the organization as a family and empowerment. I chose these two concepts specifically because they clearly illustrated the types of relationships that were forged within the organizations and how structured influenced these relationships. In Organization A, the concept of the family was used as a nurturing and caring description of the staff client relationship that had very paternalistic undertones. In these discourses the staff were constructed as the paternal authority figure that always knew best. In O rganization B, the concept was used more to dilute and explain the conflicts within the organization. It both normalized conflicts and connected them to the concept of unity. The final aspect that I explored was that of the existing spaces for client/memb er expression. The influence of structure was clear in this realm as well. In Organization A these spaces were very limited because the structure of the organization did not call for client input. On the contrary, because the structure of Organization B demanded client
81 participation, these spaces were more common. In both organizations, some of these the general client/member population. This strategy made it possible for clients/members to express themselves but in an indirect manner. It also placed a lot of fai th on the representatives to be faithful to the concerns of the people they were speaking for. In Organization A, this strategy cemented the authority of the staff, and in Organization B, it created internal hierarchies between the members. Despite these differences, both organizations, regardless of structure, did reproduce some of the hierarchies present in larger society. The difference existed mostly in the extent to which th ese hierarchies were reproduced. Organization A reproduced hierarchies in a v ery structured way and within the client staff relationship, while Organization B reproduced them within the members as an unexpected effect of providing members a voice. It is important to note that even though hierarchies existed, the clients and the mem bers did not express dissatisfaction with either organization. Even though there were some aspects of the organizations that the clients/members criticized, they all reported having extremely positive experiences with the organizations. In fact, I would sa y that most clients/members believed that the organization was an important part of their life (though for Organization A this was temporal and for Organization B it was long term). Nevertheless I believe that client/members satisfaction does not mean th at the organizations have no room for improvement. Organization A should take more initiative in creating spaces for client participation even if the clients do not actively demand it. suf ficiency and have a
82 more active role in their own success. As such, allowing for client contribution would be copacetic to their goals. Organization B should also be more cognizant of its own actions, recognizing how the representative system creates a hie rarchy of power and influence between its members. It should also be more careful about how it handles the termination of project s so that the members do not feel like they are disempowered and uninformed.
83 Chapter 5: Where do We Go from Here? Even though throughout this paper I have often criticized non profits organizations, it is not because I oppose their existence. On the contrary, I was extremely happy to see how dedicated the staff of the organizations was and how satisfied and active the clie nts/members were. Both service organizations and grassroots organizations could learn from the organizations that I studied, especially when it comes to client satisfaction. If I have made these critiques it is because I believe critiques can help make us better aware of ourselves, and that non profit organizations need to be more self reflexive in order to avoid reproducing inequality. I started this research study with the intention of understanding ways to prevent the aggravation of problems by the same organizations that work against them Because the structure of organizations influences both their goals and actions, I decided to start from there. At the beginning of the project I expected to find that the structure of non profit organizations would in fluence how the staff and the clients of organizations interacted, and whether the organizations were recreating hierarchies and inequalities. This hypothesis came mostly from Chetkovich and 2006 ) study of structurally different organizations and their observations on how this affected client participation. It also came from a larger debate within activists of whether service organizatio ns can actually create social change. From these debates, I also extrapolated that traditional, service bas ed organizations would be more likely to recreate social inequalities than grassroots organizations, because the latter would probably provide more spaces for expression to its constituents.
84 I found that the structure of an organization has a definite in fluence on the social relations within organizat ions, and t he amount of input and pow er given to the clients/members. However, I found that the structure does not influence whether an organization reproduce s hierarchies s ince both organizations did it albeit in different ways but rather, it influences the extent to and the manner in which these hierarchies are reproduced. In congruence with my hypothesis, grassroots organizations did reproduce hierarchies to a lesser extent than service based organizat ions, simply because breaking down these hierarchies was part of their mission. The reproduction of th ese hierarchies within organizations was very often related to discourse. As Foucault stated (1980), discourse was the way in which power reproduced itsel f within institutions, both by producing systems of knowledge and reinforcing the legitimacy of these systems. That is, through discourse, the staff of the organizations was often constructed as having more legitimate knowledge than the clients/members, an d as being more reliable in their thoughts and observations. For example, the staff in Organization A failed to see client concerns as valid, even when it feedback the organization needed. An attitude that echoes attitudes that assume that constituents are not aware of what is best for them (Stavig 2010). In Organization B this was more indirect, but is perhaps most evident in the discrepancies between how the staff and representative members, and how base members presented member participation. The staff and the representative members claimed that all members were part of the decision making processes, even though base members did not feel that this was necessarily true Thus, the experiences of those who had power within the organization
85 were deemed as more real and legitimate. Moreover, this echoed the often criticized strategy that lifts up individuals within a group, but not the group itself (INCITE! 2007). Discourse and knowledge, therefore served as a power tool to cement hierarchies that mirrored those found in greater society. Many scholars have cited examples of the non profit organizations ethnocentric practices that do not legitimize non Western groups and cult ures (Cullis 1992; Escobar 1992; Crewe and Harrison 1998 ; Swiller 2007) Through my study, I was able to see how Western cultural dominance is reproduced even within Western nations. This was most obvious in the case of the Burmese refugees headquarters to recognize that the people they are serving have different cultures and, thus, different material needs This mentality, however, did not seem to be present in Organization B, probably because they were much more engaged with theory; clear evidence that hyper self reflexivity is imperative for the improvement of problematic attitudes in non profits (Kapoor 2004). This difference also points to the impact of structure, since Organization A was dictated by a distant headquarter s directed by mostly white Americans whose privilege made it harder for the organization to move away from ethnocentric tendencies. On the other hand, Organization B being a grassroots meant that the staff were of the same race and eth nicities though not always social class as the members, and could thus understand their lived experiences better. it is possible to help without victimizing. F rom my exper iences, I believe that it is possible, regardless of organizational structure. Both of the organizations were able to successfully present their clients/members in respectful, dignified, and empowering ways.
86 In fact, their use of these positive images were one of their selling points to donors, demonstrating that it is not necessary to victimize constituents in order to receive the funding necessary to provide them help. However, this might be different simply because of the location of the organizations wi thin the United States. Perhaps this strategy is successful because donors in the U.S. do not want to see victimized images of people living in their country. On the contrary, they want to see that people are gaining self sufficiency and working for themse lves; an important value in a country guided by the protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism. Overall, I believe that most of the patterns that had been described in international NPOs could be found also with NPOs operating locally within the U.S, as ev idence by the two organizations in my study. Alterations If I were given the chance, I would make some change s to my study. First of all, I would spend more time with each of the organizations in order to be able to better comprehend their inner workings. I believe that this would have given me the opportunity to see many of the ways in which structure influenced relations that I was not able to get through the interviews or observations. I would also consider expanding my participant base of clie nts to more than Hispanic /Latin@ members. Though this would not have been much of a change in Organization A, I believe that it would have added to my understa nding of Organization B. Because the organization frequently defined its elf as a Black/Latin@ coa lition, it would have been appropriate and important to get the perspective of the Black members, especially since some staff and member mentioned race tensions as one of the problems of the organization.
87 Suggestions for Further Research Besides these cha nges, there are a million topic and subtopics that I would have liked to study and cover in my thesis if I had had unlimited time and resources. Luckily, there is always the possibility of conducting further research on a subject. I believe this topic woul d be particularly interesting although much more complicated if it were to be reproduced within an international context. This would enable us to see the impact of other factors such as culture, and the residues of imperialism and colonialism on the relat ionships between the staff and the constituents. It would also be both interesting and beneficial to study the relationships between differently structured non profit organizations, and see how their interactions hinder or aid their cause. Perhaps more imp ortantly, however, I would suggest more studies that focus either solely or mainly on the clients of non profit organizations, examining how they place themselves within organizations, how they negotiate power, and whether they desire to have more input. A ll these are, of course, only few of the many possible areas of this subject that should be studied in further depth. Suggestions for Non Profit Organizations In the introduction to this thesis, I stated that if grassroots organizations were found to be less likely to reproduce inequality, other organizations should learn from their structural model. However, I think that I erred in a way to believe that other o rganizations should learn from grassroots not because this is false, but because I no longer think it should be a one way exchange. I still believe that structurally different organizations should learn many things from the grassroots model and adapt it to their own models.
88 However, I think that grassroots can also learn from other organizations and move away from the mentality that they are not really dedicated to making a change. Although it may be true that service based organizations are not addressing structural problems and that by themselves they will not change a system which produces the inequality that makes these organizations necessary, we have to acknowledge that they do play an important part on the struggle. These organizations are providing p eople access to basic necessities, which in turn may help to free up their time so that they can become better educated about the system and/or be able to become more involved in a movement for change. In other words, neither type of organization can actua lly enact much change without the other one. They should therefore start cooperating and working with each other. It is also important for organizations to start being more cognizant of their constituents and creating more spaces through which they can con tribute to the dialogue and discourse of their situation. Constituents should stop being placed in a subjugated position within a world centered mainly on them. If they are really interested in help ing constituents, organizations should start paying more a ttention to what they have to say and acknowledging their importance and value. Real change is contingent upon the breaking down of discourses and conceptions in which constituents do not kn ow enough about their condition and should not be part of the solu tion. This mentality must be overcome if non profits are to pretend that they are enacting change. Final Comments It has been my hope that this study will enable us to better understand the very complicated world of non profit organizations, so that we can find solutions to the marginalization and disempowerment of constituents by the same organizations that seek
89 to help them. I also hope that this study will aid in the conception and creation of alternative spaces of expression and change within infrastruc tures that inevitably reflect and reproduce the inequalities present in society. If non profit organizations are going to construct themselves as fighters against inequality and injustice, and as vessels towards a better life, it is necessary for them to s tart looking inward when analyzing the problems that they seek to resolve. The benefit of understanding how structures impact the behavior and dynamics of non profit organizations is that it can aid organizations in being more reflexive. Self reflexivity is one of the most important actions an organization can take, and being aware of the systems that are shaping the organization can provide both the staff and the clients of organizations with a tool to counter societal expectations and hierarchies. This a wareness might also convince more organizations of the importance of working with other organizations, particularly organizations that have a different structural model. Cooperation between organizations would enable them to counteract and overcome the sho rtcomings and limitations that their structural models inevitably have. They could also learn from each other in order to provide better overall services to their constituency. In other words, understanding the impact of the structure of organizations woul d enable them to be better prepared to fulfill the mission and vision they are so dedicated to.
90 Appendix A: Original and Translated Quotes P. 41 1. La considero como algo muy importante, algo muy necesario y de mucha ayuda [...] no me imagino haber llegado a este pas sin la ayuda de esta organizacin (AC1) (AC1) 2. Te orientan de todo y te ayudan [...] a ver como son las cosas en este pas porque [...] uno llega de cero (AC2) 3 l no pude reno (BC3) (BC3) P. 42 1 Ellas ganaban $16 la hora como documentadas [...] a nosotras nos pagaban $9 [...] y sin ningn derecho [...]. De ah naci el deseo They earned $16/hour as documented workers [...] we would earn $9 [...] and we had no P.43 1. Si me gusta venir aqu. Francamente me siento bien porque me siento como en mi casa (AC5)
91 (AC5) 2. La organizacin funciona, para m, muy bien, muy bien. Y estn pendientes de uno y siempre, ya le digo, aconsejndolo P.44 1 Para m fue una experiencia muy grata, fue muy grata. Bueno fu con un objetivo y ese objetivo lo logr, y s, ellos han estado prestos a cualquier ayuda. Osea, realmente me parece muy buen servicio achieved it, and, yeah, t hey are always willing to help you with anything. I really think it P. 45 1. Dicen que hay que ponerle un dining room occidental, y si no tiene el dining room (AS1) P. 47 1. Pero no por ellos, por los que estn ms arriba. Y ms arriba es...? La junta y los que define n los dineros, los programas. Los que realmente tienen (BC1)
92 leave it behind [...] But not because of them, because of the people on top. And on top is...? The Board and the ones who define the budget, the programs. The ones who (BC1) P. 49 1. a pero entonces perdi la clase, pero no tena donde dejar los nios, pero, pero, pero. Y muchas a (AS1) English bec (AS1) 2. experiencia de trabajo, [... ] entonces nosotros ponemos los cinco aos en Cuba pero Qui n v a llamar a Cuba? Entonces como que en el pas hay esa trama us advanc (AC2) P. 50 1. empiecen xito
93 2. para abrirse paso inicialmente pero no debe [...] pretender nadie vivir de la ayuda. [...] porque si convertimos e sto en una fuente de ingreso la gente no se way initially but no one should [...] pretend to live from their help [...] b ecause if we turn this into an income source then people would not be interested in working (AC5) P. 5 2 1. en making adjustments. For example, we have 2. un reglamento, tenemos un cdigo de conducta, una pliza de resolucin de stments. For example, we P. 55 1. puedes educar a la gente que es parte de tu (BC3)
94 P. 57 1. honestidad con la que ellos manejan esa organizacin. Pero si he visto en otros lugares [...] yo viv en un shelter 11 meses, y esa gente lucraba con todo lo que les regalaban [...] la ropa que la daban para las personas que vivamos ah ellos (BC3) rality and honesty with in a shelter for 11 months, and those people profited from everything that was put the clothes that were donated for the people who li ved there in bags and took them (BC3) P. 59 1. Una ms de la familia 2. Venir a este pas es como volver a nacer 3. S e ha P. 60 1. A veces se trata del p ap ex igente, no es solamente de la m am cariosa only about being the 2. Al igual que a un nio, si uno le dice que vaya a guardar los juguetes porque
95 Entonces uno tiene que ponerse rudo porque sabe que su proceso de alimentacin tiene que ver con su proceso de formacin para el futuro et tough because you know that their nutritional process has to do with their P. 61 1. negro, que al principio era bien difcil. Y siempre hay conflictos y todo pero es (BC5) P. 62 1 S, s, nosotros, pues como en toda familia, si hemos tenido algunas comillas aqu y all f hiccups here and P. 64 1. Ayudar no significa dar dinero, ayudar a veces tiene que ver con el talento que (AS1).
96 P. 65 1. La misin de [Organizacin B] es poder empoderar a aquellas personas o The mission of [Organization B] is to be able to empower those people or (BS2) P. 69 1. 2. many years (AC1) 3 ayuda desde el punto de vista (AC5) I think that the most important thing is not only the financial help, but the P. 71 1. A veces uno necesitara una evaluacin de alguien de afuera que no fuera un cliente [...] probablemente la evaluacin del cliente nos diga todo lo bonito que hicimos, Sometimes we would need an evaluation from someone from the outside that
97 (AS1) P. 7 2 1. No, no tengo idea de a quien pudiera, [...] nadie me lo haba preguntado nunca. [...] Es la primera oportunidad que tengo de expresar lo que siento [...] sobre este No, I have no idea who I could [...] no one has ever asked me. [...] it is th e first 2. Hay una forma de hacer eso? (AC2) (AC2) P. 75 1. son elegidos por la membresa no entiende a veces muy bien el rol de cada uno dentro del Steering Committe (BC2) e role of each P.77 1. 2 "No, yo no tengo poder absoluto. Mi poder es mi poder de trabajo que les regalo. Ese es
99 Appendix B: Interview Guides Staff Interview English 1. Could you tell me about the organization? Probes purpose, structure, programs and services. 2. Could you tell me about your experience becoming involved with the organization? Probes role in it, how long have you been working here, why did you choose to come into it? 3. How satisfied are you working at (name of organization)? 4. What are the strengths a how 5. Could you tell me more about the process of deciding which programs are implemented and how they are carried out? 6. How does the organization assess the s uccess of a program? 7. Do you feel the organization is able to provide all the services it wants? Why or why not? 8. Could you tell me more about the constituents of the organization? Why did the organization choose this specific population? 9. Could you tell me how does the organization approach them? What impact does it have on their lives? 10. Do you feel that the organization successfully meets the needs of the community? How do you gage what tho se needs are? 11. Does the organization seek to assess the satisfaction of the recipients? If yes, how so? If not, is there a reason why you do not find such assessment to be necessary? 12. Do the recipients have opportunities to voice their opinion when the organ ization is structuring, or deciding on a program? What are those opportunities? 13. Could you tell me more about these opportunities (or lack thereof)? In your view, are they too few, just about the right amount, or too many opportunities for input from clie nts? 14. In your view, do you think clients are usually comfortable expressing their concerns? 15. Are there ever incidents of disagreement between the organization and the clients? If no, How does the organization deal with these situations? 16. Have you observed tensions between certain clients and certain employees? How do employees deal with these situations? 17. Do you feel that you can you relate to your clients? How?
100 18. Could you tell me about the kind of relationship you like to build with your clients? (If they are not clear: Sometimes service providers prefer to have a more distanced relationship, others prefer to have a closer relationship with their clients). 19. In your experience, are you a ble to dedicate the time you think is necessary for your dedicate to their clients; other times they prefer to dedicate such time and are given more such space by the organization. 20. Could you tell me about the meetings if you have any with your clients? Probes What kind of issues do you raise with them? How often do you meet with them ? 21. Have you ever had a problem with a client? Could you tell me more about this? Probe how do you deal with those tensions? Strategies to resolve them. 22. What is your age, gender identity, race, and ethnicity? Spanish 1. Podra hablarme acerca de la organizacin en general? Probes propsito, estructura, programas, servicios. 2. Podra hablarme sobre su experiencia al convertirse en miembro de la organizacin? Probes rol, tiempo que han estado, Por qu decidi empeza r? 3. Qu tan satisfecho est usted trabajando con (nombre de la organizacin)? 4. Cules son las fuerzas y las fallas de los esfuerzos de la organizacin? Podra hablarme de lo que piensa de la organizacin? Probe Qu tan importante es el trabajo de la organizacin? 5. Podra decirme ms acerca del proceso de decidir qu programas van a ser implementados y cmo van a ser ejecutados? 6. Cmo evala la organizacin el xito de un programa? 7. Piensa qu la organizacin provee todos los servicios que esta q uiere proveer? Por qu? 8. Podra hablarme sobre los clientes de la organizacin? Por qu escogi la organizacin trabajar especficamente con esta poblacin? 9. Podra hablarme sobre la relacin de la organizacin con los clientes? Probe cmo busca ac ercarse a ellos? Cul es el impacto de la organizacin en la vida de los clientes? 10. Piensa que la organizacin abarca las necesidades de la comunidad? Cmo identifican esas necesidades? 11. Evala la organizacin la satisfaccin de los clientes? Si s, C mo? Si no, Hay alguna razn por la que no lo encuentran necesario? 12. Tienen los clientes oportunidades de expresar sus opiniones cuando la organizacin est estructurando o decidiendo un programa? Cules son esas oportunidades? 13. Podra hablarme ms so bre estas oportunidades (o la falta de ellas)? Desde su punto de vista, hay muy pocas, la cantidad es perfecta, o hay demasiadas oportunidades para que los clientes contribuyan?
101 14. Desde su punto de vista, piensa que los clientes se sienten cmodos expresa ndo sus preocupaciones? 15. Alguna vez hay casos de desacuerdo entre la organizacin y los clientes? Si no, Por qu piensa que no los hay? Si s, podra hablarme ms de esto? Cmo maneja la organizacin estos tipos de situaciones? 16. Alguna vez ha observ ado tensiones entre ciertos clientes y ciertos empleados? Cmo manejan los empleados este tipo de situacin? 17. Siente usted que puede relacionarse con sus clientes? De que forma? 18. Podra hablarme sobre el tipo de relacin que a usted le gusta establece r con sus clientes? (Si no queda claro: A veces los proveedores de servicios prefieren tener una relacin ms distante, otros prefieren una relacin ms cercana con sus clientes). 19. En su experiencia, puede dedicarle el tiempo que desea a sus clientes? Si n o es claro: A veces los proveedores de servicios se sienten presionados a resolver problemas de una manera rpida, y no pueden pasar todo el tiempo que desearan con sus clientes; otras veces, prefieren dedicar este tiempo a los clientes, y las organizacio nes les dan ms espacio para hacer esto. 20. Podra hablarme ms de sus reuniones si las hay con los clientes? Qu tipo de temas abarcan (incluyen)? Qu tan seguido se renen? 21. Alguna vez ha tenido un problema con un cliente? Podra hablarme ms ace rca de esto? Probe Cmo maneja usted este tipo de tensin? Cules son las estrategias para resolver esto? 22. Cul es su edad, identidad de gnero, raza y etnicidad? Client/Member Interview English 1. How would you describe the organization? Probe: Can you tell me about the way they organize themselves, the way they provide services? 2. Could you tell me about how you became part of the organization? Probes How did you learn about it? Why did you become part of it? How long have you been part of it? 3. Have y ou been part of any other organization before? If so, which one? Are you still part of it? If not, why not? How would you compare the two organizations? 4. Would you recommend this organization to other people? 5. Do you know anyone else who is part of the organ ization? 6. Could you tell me about your experience being part of the organization? Probes problems with the organization, positive experiences with it. 7. How available/reachable is the organization? 8. organization? 9. What do you think the organization does well 10. Where do you feel the organization could improve?
102 11. Do you feel like the organization understands the problems of your community? 12. Could you tell me more about the programs and services the organiz ation provides? Probes how do you feel about these services? Do they provide all the services they say they will? Do you feel like the programs meet the needs of the community? 13. Have you ever had any issues with a program? Can you tell me more about this. 14. Do you feel you have a say on what and how the programs are carried out? Why? Could you give me examples/expand? 15. Would you prefer to have more say or less say? 16. Could you tell me more about the staff and your relationship to them? Probe can you relate t o them? How much do you feel they listen to their clients? Are they respectful? 17. Do you feel comfortable with the way the staff speaks with you? Do they speak to you as an equal? 18. How available/reachable is the staff? 19. Do you have meetings with the staff? If not, how do you feel about this? If yes, Could you tell me about them? Probes How often do you meet? Do you feel like the meetings are enough? Do you feel they spend enough time in the meetings with you? Do you feel that the number of times they meet wit h you are enough? 20. What is your age, gender identity, race, and ethnicity? Spanish 1. Cmo describira la organizacin? Probe: Podra hablarme sobre la manera en que se organiza y la manera en que provee servicios? 2. Podra hablarme sobre como se volvi parte de la organizacin/ como se conecto? Probes Cmo se enter de la organizacin? Porque decidi volverse parte de ella? Por cunto tiempo ha estado en la organizacin? 3. Ha sido parte de alguna otra organizacin antes? Si s, Cul? Sigue siendo parte de ella? Si no, Por qu no? Cmo comparara las dos organizaciones? 4. Le recomendara la organizacin a otras personas? 5. Conoce a alguien ms que sea parte de la organ izacin? 6. Podra hablarme ms sobre su experiencia de se parte de la organizacin? Probes problemas con la organizacin, experiencias positivas. 7. Qu tan accesible es la organizacin? 8. Cules son algunos de los beneficios de ser parte de la organiz acin? 9. Qu le parece que la organizacin hace bien? 10. Qu piensa que la organizacin podra mejorar? 11. Piensa que la organizacin entiende los problemas de su comunidad? 12. Podra hablarme sobre los programas y servicios que la organizacin provee? Pr obes Qu piensa de estos servicios? Proveen todos los servicios que dicen proveer? Piensa que los programas son adecuados para lo que la comunidad necesita?
103 13. Alguna vez ha tenido problemas con un programa/ servicio? Si, si, podra hablarme ms de e ssa experiencia? 14. Siente que tiene voz respecto a qu programas se llevan acabo y cmo? Por qu? Podra darme ejemplos, expandir? 15. Preferira tener ms o menos influencia? 16. Podra hablarme ms sobre los empleados de la organizacin y su relacin co n ellos? Probe Siente que puede relacionarse con ellos? Cunto piensa que escuchan a los clientes? Son respetuosos? 17. Que tan cmodo se siente con la forma en la que los empleados le hablan? Siente que le hablan de igual a igual? 18. Que tan accesibles son los empleados? 19. Se rene con los empleados? Si no, que piensa de esto? Si s, podra hablarme ms de ellas? Probe Que tan seguido se renen? Siente que las reuniones son suficientes? Siente que pasan suficiente tiempo en las reuniones con usted ? Siente que las reuniones se dan con suficientemente frecuencia? 20. Cul es su edad, identidad de gnero, raza, y etnicidad?
104 Appendix C: Consent Forms English Power Dynamics in Non Profit Organizations Date Dear Participant: You are invited to participate in a research study on the power dynamics between non profit organizations and their clients. The study explores non profit organizations, their services, and the relationship between the clients and the staff. If you decide to participate, you will be asked to partake in an interview which, if you allow it, will be audio recorded. Recorded material will not be seen by anyone except the person conducting the interview. Your participation will take approximately 60 90 minutes. By participating in this study, you will be able to talk about your personal experiences as part of the organization. You will contribute to the understanding of the world of non profit organizations, and client staff relationships within it. However, y ou will not receive any monetary or material compensation for your participation. Your participation is confidential. You name or any identifying information will not be linked to your responses. If names are used they will be pseudonyms created by the p rincipal investigator and not real names. The information will be used for the purposes of my undergraduate thesis, which will be available through the New College of Florida library. Your participation is voluntary and you have the right to withdraw you r consent or discontinue participation at any time without penalty. You have the right to refuse to answer any questions. For the purpose of research formality, I ask whether you are willing to be interviewed as part of this study. If you have any questi ons about this research study, or if you need to change your appointment, contact Mariana Zapata at (786) 897 2693, or at Mariana.Zapata@ncf.edu If you have questions about your rights as a person who is taki ng part in a research study, you may contact the Human Protections Administrator of New College of Florida at (941) 487 4649 or by email at email@example.com Thank you for your participation. Mariana Zapata
105 Spanish Las Dinmicas de Poder en la Organizaciones sin Fines de Lucro Fecha Querido/a participante: Est usted invitado/a participar en un estudio sobre las dinmicas de poder entre las organizaciones sin fines de lucro y sus clientes. El estudio se enfoca en las organizaciones, sus servicios, y las relaciones entre los trabajadores y los clientes. Si decide participar, se le pedir que sea parte de una entrevista que, si usted lo permite, ser grabada. Su participacin tomar aproximadamente 60 a 90 minutos. Al participar en este estudio, usted podr compartir sus experiencias personales como parte de una organizacin. Tambin contribuir al conocimiento del mundo de las sin fines de lucro, y las relaciones entre clientes y trabajadores dentro de este mundo. Sin embargo, no recibir ninguna recompensa monetaria o material por su participacin. Su participacin es confidencial. Su nombre o informacin que lo identifique no ser asociado con sus respuestas. De utilizarse nombres estos sern seudnimos creados por la investigadora y no nombres verdaderos. La informacin ser utilizada para los propsitos de mi tesis de licenciatura, la cual ser disponible en la librera de New College of Florida. Su participacin es voluntaria, y usted tiene todo el derecho de retirar su consentimiento o de terminar la entrevista en cualquier momento sin ser penalizado. Tambin tiene derecho de no contestar cualquier pregunta. Para la formalidad en la investigacin, le pregunto si est usted dispuesto a ser entrevistado como par te de este estudio. Si tiene alguna pregunta sobre este estudio, o si necesita cambiar su cita, puede contactarme al (786) 897 2693, o escribirme a Mariana.Zapata@ncf.edu Si tiene alguna pregunta sobre sus d erechos como un participante de este estudio, puede contactar al Administrador de Proteccin Humana de New College of Florida al (941) 487 4649 o por correo electrnico a firstname.lastname@example.org Gracias por anticipado, Mariana Zapata
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