NGO audiences: A Beethamite analysis

Research output: Working paper

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Representation is often raised as a legitimacy problem for NGOs based on questions about who is intended to express consent, in what capacity, and for what purpose. This paper provides a framework to explore the transversal nature of NGOs’ socio-political community by looking at which audiences confer legitimacy onto NGOs and which actions these audiences undertake can constitute a public affirmation of expressed consent. The paper operationalises Beetham’s theory of legitimation to explore what actions might count as expressed consent and thus be analysed as actions that confer legitimacy or delegitimize NGOs. The framework looks at eight groups of audiences that engage with NGOs in terms of power. The conclusion stresses that the power dynamics between an NGO and its audiences are highly fragmented and need more analytic attention if we are to better understand how issues of representation underpin and/or problematize NGOs’ legitimate role in international politics.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherCity, University of London
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

Publication series

NameWorking Papers on Transnational Politics
PublisherInternational Politics
ISSN (Electronic)2052-1898


  • NGOs
  • audiences
  • legitimacy
  • representation
  • power

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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