Paradoxes of institutionalisation: the depoliticisation of Bangladeshi NGOs

Through an analysis of how Bangladeshi NGOs have become institutionalised, the author examines patterns of bureaucratisation and professionalisation to argue that NGOs are part of a process of incorporation that mediates opposition to gender and other structural inequalities. Two important tendencies - the growing partnership between NGOs, the state, and donor agencies, and the discursive shift from social welfare and redistribution to individualism, entrepreneurship, and self-reliance - exemplify these processes. The paper shows how institutionalisation, accompanied by the conflation of civil society and NGOs, masks the loss of member-citizens' voices, channelling opposition through NGOs in ways that often compromise their interests.