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Organising Discontent: NGOs for Southeast Asian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong

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In the five decades after World War II, diverse non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have proliferated in different parts of the world to address a variety of issues ranging from humanitarian aid to human rights. At the same time, the volume of vitriolic criticisms levelled against them have also risen. This paper seeks to identify the types of changes NGOs are able to bring about in society. By adapting and applying David Korten's (1990) typology of NGOs, the author undertakes a comparative analysis of NGOs in Hong Kong that are involved with the improvement of foreign workers' rights and welfare. The argument is that the different strategies adopted by the NGOs have wrought social changes in diverse ways, from the provision of welfare assistance to the mass mobilisation of workers, in both sending and receiving countries. This is an example of the catalytic role of NGOs in contributing to a trans-border "community of sentiment" (Appadurai, 1990).


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