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The Humanitarian Space

The Humanitarian Space

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction The Humanitarian Space
Source:
(p.iii) Above the Fray
Author(s):
Shai M. Dromi
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226680385.003.0001

Humanitarian NGOs receive wide support from donors, policymakers, and diplomats, despite a lively scholarly debate about their effectiveness and ethical grounding. How did the humanitarian NGO sector attain such an unusually trusted status? The introduction examines this question in light of existing work on the history and sociology of humanitarian work. It focuses on the central role religion has played in long-distance humanitarian projects, and highlights the mid-nineteenth-century as a key turning point in the development of the humanitarian NGO sector. Building on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and on the Strong Program in Cultural Sociology, the introduction argues that the humanitarian NGO sector achieved its prominent international status through a set of cultural and religious processes occurring in the second half of the nineteenth-century.

Keywords:   humanitarianism, NGOs, social fields, Pierre Bourdieu, Red Cross, Calvinism, religion, institutional emergence, Strong Program in Cultural Sociology

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