Disaster Capitalism in a neoliberal era: An NGO perspective : A qualitative study of NGO practice, disaster capitalism and the privatisation of the humanitarian sector
Sammanfattning: The rising number of disasters, both natural and man-made, has created a greater need for humanitarian interventions. Simultaneously, it has also created larger room for disaster capitalism, a phenomenon where certain actors use disasters to push economic interests. NGO:s are one of the main actors in post-disaster settings, which happens to be the very same sphere as the one where disaster capitalism occurs. Thus, this study will examine how NGO:s can work to counteract disaster capitalism. This is done by looking at how Swedish NGO:s implement their work and whether this is compatible with Loretta Pyles’ decolonising disaster social work framework (2017), which is deemed to contain measures which can hamper disaster capitalism. Furthermore, it also delves into NGO perception of privatisation of the humanitarian sector, which consociates with disaster capitalism, which is done by looking at how Swedish NGO:s experience the expansion of privatisations into the humanitarian sphere. The methodology is based on semi-structured interviews with representatives from a number of Swedish NGO:s active in the humanitarian sector, from which data has been qualitatively analysed. The results show, among other things, that disaster capitalism as a concept is fairly unknown among most of the NGO:s, however central aspects are recognised by many. It also shows that Swedish NGO:s are generally in line with Pyles’ framework. The dilemmas of the localisation agenda are examined, where the ambitions are high but institutional barriers hamper movement in its direction. Similarly, the pros and cons of international standards are discussed and whether these are a barrier to localisation. Resilience and the humanitarian-development nexus are highly contemporary matters and are also debated. The position towards private actors and privatisations of the humanitarian sector is contradictive, as there is a general opinion that being private and for-profit is not a problem, but also a general opinion that actors have to work on a principle-basis and not to make profit. It became clear that some scepticism is levelled at private actors from an NGO perspective. Finally, critical aspects of the humanitarian system and potential future risks are discussed, with the main concern regarding a phasing out of Western NGO:s in favour for less principle-based actors from other parts of the world.
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