2009 volume 27(6) pages 1117 – 1134

Cite as:
Trudeau D, Veronis L, 2009, "Enacting state restructuring: NGOs as ‘translation mechanisms’" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27(6) 1117 – 1134

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Enacting state restructuring: NGOs as ‘translation mechanisms’

Dan Trudeau, Luisa Veronis

Received 6 August 2008; in revised form 26 June 2009; published online 26 October 2009

Abstract. In this paper we argue that nonprofit, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) constitute crucial sites at which welfare state restructuring and neoliberalism are enacted and materialised in everyday life practices. This paper responds to recent calls from geographers to move to finer scales of analysis that enrich our understanding about the geographies of welfare state restructuring and neoliberalism. Our response is based on case-study research of NGOs that provide social services to migrants in Minneapolis-St Paul, USA, and Toronto, Canada. We draw on the concept of ‘translation’ to show the agency of NGOs in articulating macroscale programmes of governance into concrete regulations that govern the conduct of everyday life. The case studies demonstrate the usefulness of seeing NGOs as translation mechanisms to current debates about the role of NGOs amidst welfare state restructuring and the rise of neoliberalism.

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