City Research Online

NGO Legitimacy: Four Models

Thrandardottir, E. (2013). NGO Legitimacy: Four Models (CUTP011). London, UK: Department of International Politics, City University London.


The aim of this paper is to examine NGOs’ legitimacy in the context of global politics. In order to yield a better understanding of NGOs’ legitimacy at the international level it is important to examine how their legitimacy claims are evaluated. This paper proposes dividing the literature into four models based on the theoretical and analytical approaches to their legitimacy claims: the market model, social change model, new institutionalism model and the critical model. The legitimacy criteria generated by the models are significantly different in their analytical scope of how one is to assess the role of NGOs operating as political actors contributing to democracy. The paper argues that the models present incomplete, and sometimes conflicting, views of NGOs’ legitimacy and that this poses a legitimacy dilemma for those assessing the political agency of NGOs in world politics. The paper concludes that only by approaching their legitimacy holistically can the democratic role of NGOs be explored and analysed in the context of world politics.

Publication Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Additional Information: © 2013 the author
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics > Working Papers on Transnational Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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