You are here

Human Rights, Social Space and Power: Why do some NGOs Exert More Influence than Others?

Neve Gordon
Mon, 10/01/2007

Employing Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of ‘social space’, this paper attempts to lay bare how human rights NGOs attain the power needed to bring about social change. The paper argues that the strategies NGOs employ cannot explain their social and political impact for the basic reason that many NGOs use the same strategies and yet there is a large power differential among them. Using the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) as a case study, I show that it is the largest and most effective rights group in Israel due to its location in social space; that is, its closeness to sites of power (government, administrative and judicial institutions as well as corporations) as well as the economic, cultural, social and symbolic capital at its disposal.

Download Full Article